Air Canada planes at the Calgary International Airport in Calgary, Alberta, on April 13, 2012.
Credits: Mike Drew/QMI AGENCY
MONTREAL - An arbitrator has imposed Air Canada's "final" contract offer on the airline's machinist union after the federal government enacted a special law ordering an end to the 14-month dispute.
Air Canada announced Sunday through a news release that the arbitrator's selection of the airline's "final" offer "concludes" a new collective agreement with members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW).
Air Canada said the five-year-agreement runs until the end of March 2016. The IAMAW represents 8,600 mechanics, baggage handlers and cargo agents employed by Air Canada.
The union rejected the airline's most recent offer and announced its intention to strike as of March 12.
However, the Canadian government enacted Bill C-33, which was given royal assent March 15.
The law suspended the union's right to strike, forbade the airline from locking out employees and imposed an arbitrator to end the dispute.
The government said at the time that any work stoppages would economically imperil the Canadian economy.
Air Canada said in the release that it would not comment further on the arbitrator's decision.
QMI Agency was not immediately able to reach the IAMAW for comment on Sunday.
However, the union made its position on Bill C-33 clear when it heavily criticized the legislation in a March 14 submission to the Senate by Dave Ritchie, the union's general vice-president.
Ritchie wrote that there was "no evidence" that a machinist strike would have a significant negative impact on the economy. Moreover, he wrote that the emergency bill was "unfair" because the most recent contract offer by Air Canada was rejected.
"(Bill C-33) is a terrible method for dealing with a complex collective agreement in which there are many issues and items to be considered and weighed," Ritchie wrote in the Senate submission.