Federal arbitrator Elizabeth MacPherson released her decision today on the arbitration between Air Canada and its 6,800 flight attendants, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Paul Moist, national president of CUPE, called the decision profoundly disappointing and laid the blame for its failure to fairly address the needs of flight attendants squarely at the feet of the Harper Conservative government.
“Flight attendants deserve better than this decision. They deserve better treatment from Air Canada, and they certainly deserve better from their federal government,” said Moist. “This government has been extremely irresponsible, and it’s their constant interference in collective bargaining that tipped the scales in favour of the company and against hardworking flight attendants.”
The arbitration award imposes the same provisions as the tentative agreement which was rejected by flight attendants on Oct. 9, 2011. Under threat of back-to-work legislation and after two unwarranted referrals to the Canada Industrial Relations Board by Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, CUPE agreed to binding arbitration with Air Canada.
“Awarding flight attendants an agreement they rejected a month ago does not in any way address serious workplace issues and flight attendants are rightfully disappointed and angry,” said Moist. “If Air Canada is truly interested in running a professional and efficient company they must invest in their work force. This agreement will leave flight attendants exhausted, frustrated and underpaid.”
Moist said this decision, the contract negotiations and the heavy-handed, ideologically driven actions of the federal government serves as a warning for every unionized worker in Canada – private and public – to prepare for continued attacks on working people.
“Throughout this entire process one thing was crystal clear: this Conservative government was ready and willing to interfere on behalf of the company and against ordinary working Canadians,” said Moist. “We need to prepare for the fact that this government is on the side of the employers and is prepared to act on their behalf. We need to be vigilant in defending the rights of working people.”
CUPE and its Air Canada Component will be reviewing the arbitration decision, and consulting with flight attendants on future steps to ensure the rights of Air Canada employees are respected and honoured.