The IAM filed a complaint with the International Labour Organization (ILO) over legislation in Canada that denies workers’ freedom of association and collective bargaining rights under international law. Founded in 1919, the ILO is a United Nations agency responsible for drawing up and overseeing international labor standards.
In March, 2012, Canada’s Conservative Government pushed the “Protecting Air Services Act” (Bill C-33) through parliament, effectively eliminating the bargaining rights of 8,800 IAM members employed by Air Canada, as well as several thousand members of the Air Canada Pilots Association. The legislation denied Air Canada workers the right to strike and forced them to accept binding arbitration under terms skewed in the employer’s favour.
“Free collective bargaining is an essential component of a free society,” said IAM Canadian GVP Dave Ritchie. “The Harper government intervened unnecessarily in the normal bargaining process at Air Canada, on the behalf of the employer. The Conservatives have poisoned the atmosphere for collective bargaining in Canada, particularly in the federal jurisdiction. We have asked the ILO to condemn the Government’s action, and to use all available means to ensure that Canada meets its international obligations.”
“Bill C-33 was a clear violation of ILO Convention 87 on ‘Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize’, ratified by the Canadian Government in 1972” added Ritchie.
As the largest union at Air Canada, the IAM represents line maintenance mechanics, auto mechanics, millwrights, electricians, inspectors, baggage handlers, cargo agents, technical writers, planners, instructors, cargo handlers, cabin groomers, aircraft cleaners, weights and balance agents, purchasers, expediters, as well as stores and clerical personnel.