Airline Workers' Voices Must be Heard on Canada-EU Deal

March 3, 2010, 8:33 AM EST

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A coalition of Canadian and European air transport unions has issued a joint call to government officials demanding airline workers voices are heard on issues impacting employment under the new Canada-EU Air Transport Agreement, signed on December 18 2009.

In a February 10 letter addressed to chief negotiators Rob Ready (Canada) and Philippe Burghelle Vernet (European Union), Coalition members including the CAW demanded that civil aviation unions in each country be treated as stakeholders in ongoing joint committee work on issues relevant to employment and the working conditions of air transport employees.

"Airline workers in Canada have been effectively shut out of the negotiation process, even though they stand to suffer most from this deal," said Peggy Nash, Assistant to the CAW President. "Workers' voices must be heard when the Joint Committee first sits in April."

The Air Transport Agreement establishes a framework aimed at deregulating air travel between Canada and the 27-member EU state, including unrestricted access to both international and regional routes, abolishing limits on foreign ownership requirements and eroding workplace wage and benefit standards. The deal builds on similar 'Open Skies' agreements signed by Canada over the years, including a landmark 1995 agreement with the United States.

Open Skies agreements have been a key policy plank in successive governments' push to deregulate the Canadian air transport industry, which first gained traction under Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1984. Deregulation has contributed to the destabilization of the airline industry (over 25 airline bankruptcies in Canada alone), massive job losses and a deterioration of workplace standards.

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