Labour briefs

Ontario elevator strike stuck on seniority • Strike averted at Aeromexico

Ontario elevator strike stuck on seniority

— There’s only one issue standing in the way of getting broken elevators moving again in Ontario, according to the association representing employers performing Industrial Commercial-Institutional (ICI) construction.

What’s the issue? “Reasonable modification to seniority,” according to the National Elevator Escalator Association (NEEA). About 1,400 repair workers represented by the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) have been on strike since May 1. The pay issue has been settled, NEEA said. The current elevator mechanic wage of $112,000 a year is rising to $121,000 — something it called a “significant increase to hourly wages.”

NEEA wants a change from industry seniority to individual company seniority. It says the elevator and escalator industry is the only construction trade in Ontario that allows workers to carry seniority between different employers.

“In order to improve safety, training and improved product knowledge, NEEA is proposing that the industry move from industry seniority to individual company seniority,” it said in a press release.

According to NEEA, industry seniority was arbitrated into collective agreements in Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia and British Columbia in the mid-1970s. But in every province but Ontario, NEEA and the union have agreed to either eliminate, grandfather or move seniority to separate collective agreements, it said.

At press time, no deal had been announced.

Strike averted at Aeromexico

— Mexico's biggest airline, Aeromexico, and its unionized workers forged a last-minute accord early on Saturday, June 1, to avoid a strike that could have grounded some 300 flights and cost 150 million pesos ($12 million Cdn) a day.

The union known as ASSA, which represents about 1,300 Aeromexico flight attendants, had threatened a midnight strike if it did not get the five per cent salary hike and three per cent boost in benefits it sought.

In its final offer, the airline proposed to raise attendants' salary immediately by 4.7 per cent, boost benefits by 1.5 per cent, and set up a committee to make a decision on the prickly issue of new employee contracts by July 1. Nearly two hours after the midnight deadline for a deal, the union announced it had accepted the proposal.

"Fortunately a conclusion has been reached by the assembly to avert the strike," said Ricardo del Valle, ASSA director.

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