Air Canada cancels flights after "illegal job action"

Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:10pm EDT
 
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By Susan Taylor

TORONTO (Reuters) - Air Canada canceled more than 40 flights on Friday after what it called an "illegal job action" by some of its pilots, further ratcheting up already tense labor relations at the country's biggest airline.

The carrier, in a heated dispute with two of its key unions, including the one representing its 3,000 pilots, asked the Canada Industrial Relations Board to declare the disruption an unlawful strike.

Earlier this week, it said in a letter to the pilots' union that a number of pilots had planned to book off sick on Friday, although they were fit to fly.

The labor board expects to issue a decision on the cease-and-desist request within hours.

Air Canada Pilots Association president Paul Strachan said the union will comply with any labor board decision. But he warned that pilots are fed up.

"We all need to be very cognizant of the real risk that, at some point, the pilots will feel so beaten down and so helpless that they're going to lash back and not even this organization is going to be able to control the outcome of events," he said.

"I think we have the ear of most of them, still the vast majority of them. But I think there's a growing frustration among them that it's a hopeless situation, they feel like cattle being herded into the killing yards."

Montreal-based Air Canada canceled 36 of 690 flights scheduled to depart from its hub at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, according to the airport's website, with a possible snowball effect on flights from other centers.   Continued...

 
Passengers walk past Air Canada planes on the runway at Pearson International Airport in Toronto April 13, 2012. Air Canada canceled at least 30 flights on Friday after what it called an "illegal job action" by some of its pilots, the latest example of tense labor relations at the country's biggest airline. The carrier, in a heated dispute with two of its key unions, including the one representing its 3,000 pilots, said it was exploring its options to deal with the disruption, which came after pilots reportedly called in sick even though they were fit to fly. REUTERS/Mike Cassese