Raitt appoints arbitrator in Air Canada, pilots dispute

OTTAWA — Labour Minister Lisa Raitt has appointed arbitrators in the disputes between Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) and two of its unions.

OTTAWA — Labour Minister Lisa Raitt has appointed arbitrators in the disputes between Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) and two of its unions.

The two unions and the airline announced they would resume talks last month, but were waiting on Raitt to appoint an arbitrator.

Employees represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers were thwarted from going on strike last month, and Air Canada was prevented from locking out the pilots, when Raitt sent the matter to the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

“The appointment of an arbitrator is a key step in resolving this labour dispute,” Raitt said in a statement.

Raitt has appointed Douglas Stanley to oversee talks between the company and the Air Canada Pilots Association.

Stanley, a labour lawyer who was New Brunswick’s deputy minister of labour, was suggested as a candidate by both sides. He will issue a decision on the final offers submitted by each party.

In the groundworkers’ dispute, Raitt appointed Michel Picher, who was suggested as a candidate by both Air Canada and the IAMAW. Picher will also reach a decision on the final offers presented by the parties.

Picher was the vice-chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

The Montreal-based airline has said once an arbitrator was appointed 10 days of scheduled talks would begin with the union that represents 8,600 mechanics, baggage handlers and cargo agents and the union representing some 3,000 pilots.

The federal government passed back-to-work legislation that sent the company and the two unions to binding arbitration, although Raitt said repeatedly it would be better for the parties to reach a negotiated agreement.

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