December 5, 1996

Buzz Hargrove, president of the CAW, and the CAW Local 1990 bargaining committee arrived in Ottawa for meetings this week with Canadian Airlines CEO Kevin Benson, Minister of Transport David Anderson and Minister of Labour Alfonso Gagliano.

Towards the end of the discussions the bargaining committee decided the key issue was trying to get some commitment from the government that would promote an environment of stability so that the wage concessions being demanded of Canadian Airlines workers were not just another down payment on the next concessions.

It is clear to the bargaining committee, a number of analysts and Premier Glen Clark that without some form of stability the crisis at Canadian Airlines will continue because of the practice of destructive competition.

The bargaining committee along with Hargrove once again made the case that wages are not the cause of the problem and in fact this is the fourth time they have been asked to give wage concessions only to see that money being used to put more empty seats in the sky in a futile effort to force competitors out of the market.

In an unprecedented move, as Hargrove and the committee waited to board a plane from Ottawa to Toronto, the Minister of Labour announced to the House of Commons it would be using Section 107 of the Canada Labour Relations Act to order a vote of the latest company offer.

The offer began November 1 as a 10 per cent wage cut or your job. Benson at that point said there would be no government involvement and no negotiations with the company. Now, as a result of pressure we are at the situation where the wage cuts, though still unwarranted, are less than five per cent, but there is still no guarantee whatsoever that the company will not be back in a matter of months to ask for more cuts.

As of 12 noon today there are discussions underway between the CAW Local 1990 bargaining committee, the company and the Minister of Labour.

As well , Premier Glen Clark phoned late last night to say he understands the unprecedented nature of a government ordered vote and that he is willing to help in any way he can to assist in getting a solution.

Hargrove and the bargaining committee have said all along that if we can bargain a resolve to this crisis that we believe is as good as we can get for members and their families, indeed all the workers at Can Airlines, we will put the settlement to the membership for a vote.

All along there have been some who have wanted a vote, including a vote on the initial 10 per cent, and who continue to call for a vote now. We believe that those workers are absolutely entitled to express their opinion but the bargaining committee still has substantial majority support from CAW members working at Canadian Airlines from coast to coast. The bargaining committee is very much aware, as they are also employees with a combined total of over 100 years of service, and stand to lose their jobs too, of the incredible stress that our members especially, their families and the workers of Canadian Airlines have gone through, not only in the past month but over the past five years as crisis after crisis has hit these workers.

Our goal is to work throughout the remainder of the day to see how far we get in bargaining a solution and then the bargaining committee will decide what is the next step.

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