TORONTO, March 13, 2012 /CNW/ - A majority of Canadians want Air Canada to negotiate a new contract with its pilots and avoid having the federal government impose arbitration, according to a survey released today by the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA).
Fifty-eight per cent of poll respondents agreed that Air Canada should negotiate directly with its pilots to agree on a mutually acceptable contract. Only 33 per cent thought that the federal government should appoint an arbitrator to impose a binding ruling on the airline and its pilots.
This is consistent with Canadians' view that the federal government should not get involved in a disagreement between a private sector company and its employees. Sixty-three per cent of survey respondents believe it is better for a company and its employees to negotiate their own agreement. Only 26 per cent favour having the government step in quickly and appoint an arbitrator to settle a disagreement over contract negotiations.
"The public clearly supports the approach that we have taken to the bargaining table," said ACPA President Captain Paul Strachan. "Air Canada pilots have patiently waited more than a decade for the opportunity to freely bargain a new collective agreement and we are determined to reach a negotiated settlement."
"We want a new agreement, not intervention from outside parties," Captain Strachan said. "Air Canada should listen to its customers and match our commitment to reaching a fair settlement."
The pilots have been trying to secure a new contract for more than a year. While negotiations continue, the pilots are flying under a 2009 agreement which expired almost one year ago. That agreement froze the pilots' pay for more than two years and provided Air Canada hundreds of millions of dollars in relief from its pension funding obligations.
In contrast, Air Canada last year boosted compensation for its top five executives by 30 per cent. On March 31 of this year, Air Canada President and CEO Calin Rovinescu will collect a $5 million retention bonus for remaining in his position for three years.
"Air Canada pilots have continued to demonstrate their professionalism and commitment to our passengers despite the challenges our airline has faced," Captain Strachan said. "We have also made more sacrifices than any other employees, including corporate executives, to keep Air Canada flying."
In Air Canada's financial restructuring of 2003-2004, the pilots accepted pay cuts of 15 - 30 per cent and granted other concessions to keep the airline viable. Since that time, they have been unable to freely bargain a new contract and their pay rates are currently lower than they were a decade ago.
The online poll of 1,000 Canadians aged 25 and older was conducted January 23-24 by Jane Armstrong Research Associates. The complete survey is available at www.acpa.ca.
The Air Canada Pilots Association is the largest professional pilot group in Canada, representing the 3,000 pilots who operate Air Canada's mainline fleet.
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