OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government is prepared to introduce back-to-work legislation if there is a strike by pilots at Jazz Air Income Fund, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said on Thursday.
Raitt told the House of Commons that talks between Jazz and the Air Line Pilots Association have not produced a new work contract. The 1,519 pilots have been without a contract with the Canadian regional airline since June 30, 2009, when their previous deal expired.
Jazz is the regional carrier for Air Canada, the country's biggest airline.
"I am disappointed to report that Jazz Air and pilot negotiations have not resulted in a new agreement," Raitt told legislators.
"Although no formal strike or lockout notice has been given, our government is taking action to prevent travelers from being stranded, so yesterday I gave notice of intent to (present) legislation in the House ... we encourage the parties to return to the table and settle this matter expeditiously," she said.
Jay Hill, the minister in charge of managing government House business, said if "there were to be a work stoppage that would threaten our communities serviced by Jazz Airlines ... the government is prepared to act expeditiously to ensure that work stoppage would be of the shortest possible duration".
The House of Commons is due to break for the summer later on Thursday and parliamentarians would have to be recalled for a vote on the legislation.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway