Air Canada flight attendants could stike next week

Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:02pm EDT
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By Nicole Mordant

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Flight attendants at Air Canada have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike, which could start as early as next Wednesday if they cannot agree on a new contract with the country's biggest airline.

The airline said it is talks with the union and that its business would operate as usual. Air Canada will fall back to a partial schedule which includes codeshare flights operated by its partner airlines, it said in a statement.

A strike would seriously hobble Air Canada's ability to fly to the more than 100 destinations it serves in Canada and internationally, analysts said.

However, any job action is likely to be short-lived as the Canadian government is expected to quickly legislate employees back to work.

Just short of 98 percent of the flight attendants who voted in a 10-day cross-country poll supported giving the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) a strike mandate, union officials said on Tuesday.

"No one wants a strike, but if we can't reach a tentative agreement which addresses our members' concerns, and soon, it could be our only choice," Jeff Taylor, president of the Air Canada Component of CUPE, said in a statement.

The earliest the flight attendants could walk off the job legally is September 21, when the current conciliation process ends. By law, the union also has to give Air Canada 72 hours' notice of a strike.

"There may be a way that they can run limited operations but they couldn't run full operations," said PI Financial analyst Chris Murray.   Continued...