Air Canada issues travel alert after possible pilot protest

Union informs airline some pilots plan 'sick-out' against union’s advice

Air Canada issued a Canada-wide travel alert on April 12 after the union representing its pilots warned the airline a "small group" of its pilots planned on calling in sick.

"Airport disruptions" could delay or cancel flightsall day and into the weekend, a message on Air Canada's website warns.

A number of flights were delayed or cancelled at airports across the country as a result of pilots calling in sick, Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said.

The Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) — the union representing the airline's pilots — is urging its members to go to work and ignore colleagues who are hoping for a widespread "sick out" to protest their displeasure with the airline.

“It is our duty to advise all pilots that ACPA’s right to strike and Air Canada’s right to lock out its employees are suspended until a new collective agreement takes effect under the arbitration procedures of the Protecting Air Service Act,” Capt. Jean-Marc Bélanger, chairman of the ACPA, said in a newsletter to pilots. “The Act also requires the association and its officers to take all reasonable steps to ensure that employees comply with the provisions of the Act and refrain from any conduct that may encourage employees not to comply with the Act.”

Employees can personally be fined up to $1,000 a day for participating in an illegal job action, while union officials can face fines of up to $50,000 a day.

Air Canada has been involved in a number of labour disputes over the past year, including one with its 3,000 pilots.

Labour Minister Lisa Raitt referred the dispute with its pilots and one with its 8,600 ground crew to the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

Most recently, Air Canada threatened to terminate the employment of ACPA president Capt. Paul Strachan after he allegedly made “reckless” remarks about plane safety during a March interview. Strachan said the shutdown of Aveos Fleet Performance Inc., which conducts aircraft maintenance for the airline, could have negative effects on the operations of the airline.

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