Air Canada Strike: Customer Service Employees Strike

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Air Canada's Customer Service Employees Strike

BriYYZ, flickr

Some 3,800 Air Canada check-in and call center agents walked out on Tuesday night as their union, the Canadian Auto Workers, went on strike over issues related to pensions.

Canada's largest carrier is now claiming that its flights will be delayed but operational and that 1,700 managers have been mobilized to fill the positions left by workers headed to the picket line

Most of the Air Canada's nearly 20,000 staff whose work directly affects travelers (e.g. bag handlers, pilots and flight attendants) have not had a contract with Air Canada since March, so the situation could get significantly worse.

Word is that the airline's employees didn't particularly appreciate the April announcement that their company's CEO was earning $4.6 million for 2010.

A proposed budget carrier offshoot that would offer cheap flights from Canada to Europe by lowering overhead costs (read: salaries) also has not gone over terribly well with the unions.

For travelers in or headed to Canada, the strike means airport frustrations and difficulty getting out of the country. Those who have to travel would probably be smart to avoid checking baggage and embrace e-ticketing. Anything involving customer interaction is likely to be triaged, so if it involves service, don't expect it to happen.

Air Canada is saying in a statement on its site that, "Given our airport personnel will be limited, our priority will be to attend to customers with special needs."

In May, strikes closed many airports in Spain and other countries have faced serious wrangling over wages as rising gas prices and a not quite rebounded global economy have put the aviation industry on its heels.


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