Air Canada`s 6,500 flight attendants and 700 at Air Canada Rouge, the company`s leisure company, are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). “This pioneering agreement follows the landmark 10-year agreement reached last October with our pilots and is the fifth collective agreement reached last year with unions representing our employees,” said Calin Rovinescu, President and CEO of Air Canada. After years of work turmoil, Air Canada reached an unusual agreement with its cabin crew, which did not guarantee a lockout or strike for a decade, but the agreement was ratified only with the narrowest margins. “With annual wage increases, unprecedented job security and many significant improvements in working conditions, Air Canada flight attendants have secured a better future both on the main line and at Rouge,” said Michel Cournoyer, President of CUPE`s Air Canada component. The agreement follows a 10-year contract with Air Canada pilots last year and a five-year contract signed earlier this year by customer service employees represented by Unifor. Given that other airlines, such as Lufthansa, are regularly affected by operational disruptions due to work problems, Air Canada can say with certainty that there will be no strike or lockout of flight attendants. “It means half the members don`t like it,” he said. “It`s not good for the company or the union. They do not want a close vote. Smith acknowledged that the company would always be pleased that the agreement was ratified because it provides security for both customers and investors.
But George Smith, an associate professor in the School of Industrial Relations at Queen`s University, called close ratification a problem. Smith said he understood why management wanted to enter into a long-term contract, but questioned the length. “Who knows what the economy will look like in four years or even next year?” It also helps the airline make long-term financial commitments, such as acquisition. B new planes and planning new routes. He warned that the airline could be affected by problems such as the growing complaints from the union, as there is a political group that thinks it is not a good deal and could take every opportunity to report it. The baggage handlers and mechanics, represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, are in preliminary discussions since their contract expires in March next year. The aviation industry can be significantly influenced by external forces such as fuel prices, a global economic downturn or even terrorist attacks, such as those that followed the September 11 attacks in the United States. The union refused to disclose the results of the vote – but a ballot received by Stern showed that 50.4% voted “yes,” compared to 49.6% who voted for rejection, with three-quarters of voting members voting. “This is another indication of how Air Canada is poised to become a world champion,” said Rovinescu.