Air Canada back-to-work legislation slammed by Alberta labour leader: AFL also fears for future of Canada Post at hands of federal Tories

Using legislation to force employees back to work will not bring labour peace or prosperity to Air Canada, says the Alberta Federation of Labour.

"The only way to secure a good long-term future for any employer in a dispute with its workers – whether it's Air Canada or Canada Post – is for the two parties to reach a deal together," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, which represents 145,000 workers.

"Using back-to-work legislation removes the incentive for the employer to come to the table and negotiate. With the hands of the workers tied, the employer can impose an unjust and unpopular deal that fails to address the issues that led to the dispute," says McGowan.

"This is simply a recipe for more problems down the road. We all know that corporations work best when management and employees work together. It was the willingness of Air Canada employees, including the members of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Local 2002, to work with management and make sacrifices that helped the airline survive the recession. Instead of interfering in negotiations, the federal government should be staying neutral and helping both sides reach a deal they can live with, now that the airline is doing better," he says.

"After less than 24 hours of strike action by customer service and reservations agents - and with no flights being cancelled and little disruption reported - the government's claim that there is a threat to the national economy lacks even a shred of credibility."

Meanwhile, McGowan said he was "profoundly disappointed" that Canada Post had forced a nationwide lockout of members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

"The mail was getting through, even if delayed as a result of rotating strikes. The union is still willing to negotiate. Forcing a nationwide stoppage is a reckless move," says McGowan.

"This makes no sense – unless the federal Tories have a different endgame in mind for Canada Post. We fear that the Conservative-appointed managers at the corporation are not trying to save Canada Post, but are trying to destroy it, in order to justify the privatization of our public postal service," he says.

"Privatization of the postal service will mean two things for Canadians – poorer services and higher prices. It will mean one thing for the corporate friends of the federal Tories – a chance to profit at the expense of citizens."

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MEDIA CONTACT: Gil McGowan, AFL president, 780-218-9888

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