Air Canada back-to-work bill being readied

Fri Mar 9, 2012 5:41pm EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government is preparing back-to-work legislation for Air Canada so that it can respond quickly if there is any work stoppage at the country's biggest airline, the government said on Friday.

For now, any strike or lockout is prohibited while the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) considers whether a disruption would pose a health or safety risk.

Labour Minister Lisa Raitt asked the CIRB to rule on that matter on Thursday, averting a simultaneous strike and lockout that could have grounded the carrier during a spring school break, when many families travel.

The airline's machinists' union had given notice that they would strike, and Air Canada had announced that it would lock out its 3,000 pilots, both at one minute after midnight on March 12.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; Writing by Allison Martell; Editing by Rob Wilson and Peter Galloway)