FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TORONTO – Dave Ritchie, Canadian Vice President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM ) today responded to the air transport restructuring plan announced by Air Canada.
Ritchie issued the following statement:
“The Air Canada proposal provides a significant contribution to the discussions about the future of our air transport industry. We hope that it is a step towards resolving the uncertainty facing air transport workers. However this proposal, like the Onex proposal leaves too many questions unanswered. As a consequence we neither oppose nor endorse the Air Canada proposal.
“The bottom line remains that it is the federal government which must act and which must provide much clearer detail about the five conditions which they have accepted as a prerequisite for restructuring.
“The Machinists, Canada’s largest air transport union, representing 18,500 workers, already has called on the government to provide a commitment to five basic points to protect the future of our industry.
“1. Recognize that the entire air transport industry — including airline service providers, regional and other carriers, not just major carriers — must be considered and included in any policy.
“2. Consumers, all Canadians who fly, must be assured of safe quality service and protection from price-gouging.
“3. Service to all communities, particularly smaller communities, must be protected.
“4. The rights of workers across the sector must be protected, involuntary job loss minimized and a program of worker assistance developed.
“5. There must be effective Canadian control of any restructured air transport industry, and there must be no major transfers of jobs out of Canada.
“While Transport Minister David Collenette has given general assurances that these conditions will be applied to the restructuring process, we call on him to be specific as to how the government will ensure these conditions will be met. Well intentioned though he may be, the proposals sound like a `wish list.’
“Again, both Air Canada and Onex say they are prepared to meet these broad objectives. We want to see the fine print. And it is the federal government which has the responsibility to provide specific guidelines which will guarantee the obligations undertaken by any shareholder group.
“This is a major public policy issue. The free market cannot on its own be allowed to take control and force Canadians to adjust to their way of doing things. It is a government of Canada issue. The government and Parliament must act decisively to put the rules governing air transport in place.”
-30-CONTACT: Dave Ritchie: (416) 386-1789
SOURCE: Neville Hamilton (613) 731-6316 (Ottawa Office) (613) 720-4493 (Cell)
Frank Saptel (416) 386-1789