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Ottawa, Ontario, October 12, 2011—The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Canada’s Labour Minister, has referred the issues of maintenance of activities and industrial stability to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB). The referral was made after union members voted against a second tentative agreement reached by Air Canada and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represent Air Canada’s flight attendants, on September 20, 2011.
“Our government received a strong mandate to protect the Canadian economy and Canadian jobs, so we have been closely following the negotiations between Air Canada and CUPE,” said Minister Raitt. “I have asked the CIRB to review the situation at Air Canada to ensure that the health and safety of the public will not be impacted, and to determine how best to maintain and secure industrial peace and promote conditions that are favourable to the settlement of industrial disputes.”
Under the Canada Labour Code, the CIRB, upon referral by the Minister of Labour during a labour dispute, may issue binding orders with respect to the maintenance of activities to ensure that a work stoppage does not threaten public safety or health. The Canada Labour Code allows the Minister of Labour to refer issues to the CIRB in order to maintain industrial peace and promote the settlement of industrial disputes.
“I am concerned that talks between the parties have not produced a suitable agreement, despite considerable assistance from the Labour Program’s Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service,” said Minister Raitt. “Two rounds of collective bargaining resulted in tentative agreements that were recommended by the bargaining committee. In each case, the union membership rejected the agreement.”
As a negotiated agreement is unlikely in the near future and the collective bargaining process has broken down, the Minister of Labour has asked the CIRB to consider either imposing an agreement upon the parties or sending Air Canada and CUPE to binding arbitration. Both the union and the employer must continue their normal work activities until the matter of maintenance of activities has been decided upon by the CIRB.
The CIRB is an independent, representational, quasi-judicial tribunal. Its mandate is to interpret and apply the provisions of Part I of the Canada Labour Code that deal with collective bargaining and unfair labour practices.
For more information on the CIRB, visit www.cirb-ccri.gc.ca.
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