Last week's notice from the IAMAW, the union representing Air Canada's 8600 mechanics, baggage handlers and cargo agents that it would strike on Monday, and then a notice from Air Canada that it would lock out its pilots, spurred the federal government to action. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt referred the disputes to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) asking it to review the situation to make sure "that the health and safety of the public would not be affected during a work stoppage." While the issue is before the CIRB neither side can strike or lock out. This is the same move the government made last October when Air Canada's flight attendants rejected a second tentative agreement. The federal government also gave notice that is will have back-to-work legislation ready this week.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper chimed in on the issue as well, as CTV News reports. Speaking to reporters at Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto on Friday, Harper said "Air Canada is a special case." He made it clear that because Air Canada is the largest airline in the country, "a shutdown of service ... would have significant impact not only on airline service to Canadians but on the transportation system as a whole and potentially on the economy."
Photo: Courtesy Air Canada