Fighting Back at Air Canada

April 30, 2011, 2:00 PM EST

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After a decade of tough bargaining and continuing demands for takeaways and cutbacks in the Canadian airline industry, Air Canada workers are rallying and pulling together as the deadline for a new contract rapidly approaches.

The CAW Local 2002 bargaining committee, which represents 3,800 Air Canada workers in customer services and sales in major airports and call centres, is working to negotiate a fair and equitable agreement with the company by a June 13 deadline.

"Air Canada has conditioned itself to believe that bargaining is all about taking more away from workers," said CAW National Representative Leslie Dias. "We need a fair agreement and we are ready to fight if need be."

She slammed the 77 per cent increase in compensation to Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu last year. While the company is demanding cuts in the pension plan during this round of bargaining, Rovinescu received total compensation of $4.6 million last year.

Speaker after speaker outlined the need for gains for Air Canada members who are working harder than ever after years of concession demands. More than 700 CAW Council delegates unanimously approved a resolution calling on all CAW local unions across the country to support Local 2002 in its current round of bargaining.

Marcel Rondeau, Local 2002 Eastern Region bargaining representative, said the membership has gone through 10 years of tough bargaining. He said during this period wage increases for Air Canada members have averaged less than one percent while over the same period consumer prices have gone up two per cent.

Rondeau also outlined how average productivity in the airline industry has increased 30 per cent over the 10 years, while the productivity of CAW members at Air Canada has gone up 75 per cent.

Bob Chernecki, assistant to the CAW President, said airline workers at Air Canada have faced tremendous hardship over the years.

"Enough is enough," Chernecki said. He urged all CAW members across Canada to stop and show support to airline workers in airports across the country.

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