Air Canada reaches third deal with union in three days

Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:52pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Air Canada said on Sunday it had reached a tentative agreement with the union representing its Toronto flight dispatchers, the second deal for Canada's largest airline in two days.

Air Canada reached deals with mechanics, baggage handlers and purchasing agents on Friday and with crew schedulers on Saturday. It still faces the possibility of a pilots' strike this week, although the Canadian government could also pass legislation forcing a quick return to work.

Air Canada said the latest deal with the Canadian Airline Dispatchers Association will now go to the airline's 74 flight dispatchers at its Toronto control center for ratification. It gave no details of the terms of the new agreement.

Air Canada, which competes on many routes with smaller, non-union carrier WestJet Airlines, wants to set up a low-cost carrier to improve its financial chances.

It reached a tentative agreement with Air Canada's Pilots Association in March, but the pilots rejected it, worried about two-tier pensions and the impact of the discount airline on their own terms and conditions.

The pilots' union called a strike vote after talks with a government-appointed conciliator and management failed. Once a cooling-off period ends February 14, the pilots can strike after giving the airline 72 hours' notice. Air Canada can also lock out workers with the same notice.

($1=$1 Canadian)

(Reporting By Janet Guttsman; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)