Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Air Canada flight attendants and their supporters gather outside Toronto Pearson Airport for a rally on Sept. 20.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The federal government is taking a new shot at blocking a strike by Air Canada flight attendants, before it resorts to introducing back-to-work legislation when MPs return to the House of Commons next week.



Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said Ottawa will turn the matter over to the Canada Industrial Relations Board, a federal labour tribunal, marking the latest twist in the bitter labour conflict between Air Canada and its employees.



Whether the move is enough to halt a strike on Thursday remains to be seen. The CIRB already tried to halt a job action by 1,600 Canadian Airport Union Workers last week, but security screeners ignored the order, wreaking havoc on flight schedules.

Story continues below advertisement



As the threat of a strike looms, the airline is still holding out hope for a last-minute settlement. But conflicting interests are driving wedges between the company and employees – and even the union itself.



Over the past few months, the flight attendants have rejected not once, but twice, proposed contract offers that had been hammered out between Air Canada's management and the bargaining committee of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. That the rank and file would reject two different offers backed unanimously by union brass is a highly unusual outcome in labour relations in Canada, say experts. It raises the question of who – if anyone – Air Canada can sit down with to seriously negotiate a revised agreement, given the fact that the union representatives appear to have lost the confidence of their membership.



Air Canada has questioned the legitimacy of the bargaining committee and more than 2,300 flight attendants have signed a petition to oust their top three union leaders.



"This situation is unprecedented and we continue to evaluate options before deciding next steps," Air Canada spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur said in an e-mail.



"Air Canada has now negotiated two separate tentative agreements with CUPE that were both endorsed unanimously by its members' elected representatives, yet subsequently rejected by its membership. These results suggest a fundamental disconnect between CUPE and its members that compromises the traditional bargaining process."



A CUPE spokesman declined to comment.



Adding to the uncertainty is the readiness of the federal government to introduce back-to-work legislation to force the 6,800 flight attendants back on the job should they go ahead and strike.

Story continues below advertisement



George Smith, a fellow in the Queen's University School of Policy Studies and a labour relations expert, says the take-no-prisoners stance adopted by the rank and file appears to be the result of Ottawa's decision to get involved directly by threatening a back-to-work law.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies