Air Canada calls for conciliation with customer service agents

Unifor said bargaining nowhere near impasse

Air Canada applied for conciliation in its negotiations with customer sales and service agents.

Unifor — representing the more than 4,100 Air Canada employees involved — said the application is premature and a departure from the employer’s previous bargaining pattern.

“We’re eager to negotiate in good faith and there are lots of items to discuss,” said Cheryl Robinson, president of Unifor’s Local 2002. “But Air Canada appears eager for government interference early in the process.”

Air Canada applied for conciliation after two weeks of bargaining, Unifor said. Conciliation — which triggers the assignment of a federally appointed conciliator — is usually considered a last resort after parties reach an impasse.

If appointed, the conciliator will work with Air Canada and Unifor for up to 60 days in an effort to reach an agreement.

“We’re only 14 days into bargaining and they’re already pressing the panic button,” said Leslie Dias, Local 2002’s lead negotiator. “In all my years at Air Canada, I’ve never seen management so quick to declare an impasse.”

Regardless of Air Canada’s bargaining strategy, the union said, it is confident talks will end in a negotiated settlement.

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