October 09, 2011

Air Canada Flight Attendants threaten to strike...AGAIN

Who's up for round two?

Apparently, Air Canada's CUPE-affiliated flight attendants are.

Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock over the past few months would know that there has been increasing tension between Air Canada and its flight attendants. The issues at hand (wages, pensions, crew rest and working conditions) haven't changed one iota since the federal government threatened back to work legislation if those CUPE members decided to strike.

Now, all formalities aside, I have to say that I do sympathize with the flight attendants. All they've done over the past several years is take concession upon concession "on the chin" in order to maintain Air Canada's status as a viable, solvent company. That said, I cannot imagine the federal government would ever "let" the flight attendants fully strike.

Simply put...Air Canada and its operations are too important and vital to be disrupted by labour tension. The question at hand is then: do Air Canada's flight attendants want to continue taking concessions (or, should I say, not gaining back anything they've lost) or be faced with the ever looming possibility that their jobs just simply won't be there one day.

Understandably, in this time of economic upheaval, it is rather difficult for Air Canada to keep itself "in the black" and satisfy its employees demands. On the part of the company, I can say that demanding its employees to work harder for longer while threatening their pensions and whatever else they hold dear is bad strategy, what other choice have the executives had?

With increasing fuel prices and ever increasing general maintenance costs, Air Canada has been faced with a double-edged sword. Either they can hike up fares above their already ridiculously high rates or they can try to find ways to keep costs down. Without the choice of whether to fuel and maintain its fleet or not, the company hasn't had a choice.

If fares go up much more, people will start booking with other airlines that can offer comparable services for less money (WestJet comes to mind). On that note, its a fact that Air Canada has already lost significant market share to WestJet since that company was founded in 1996.

On the flip side, if the company continues to pressure its employees into giving more concessions, it will be faced with operations-halting strike mandates on a quarterly basis. Given that, the position of the federal government is quite clear: strike and face back-to-work legislation.

So what are these average workers to do?

Well, if I were one of them, I would be simply counting my blessings that I indeed have a well-paying job with a reputable company. Those who are overly concerned should look for employment elsewhere. Because as all of us know, you cannot "bite the hand that feeds you" too many times before the day comes that you'll wake up without a job at all.

So, to the Air Canada flight attendants out there...bite the bullet and accept the fact that desperate times call for desperate measures.

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