Air Canada Employees Stage Wildcat Strikes After Gov’t Intervention


It’s getting ugly at Air Canada.

Two weeks after their legal and constitutional right to strike was taken away by the Harper government under the guise of “protecting the economy,” the sight of the Minister who brought forward the labor-hostile legislation getting on one of their planes was too much to bear for some Air Canada employees.

“Thanks for taking away our right to strike!” shouted the ground workers to Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, sarcastically clapping. The heckles got worse. Security intervened and three employees were disciplined and suspended for 72 hours. The situation inflamed until 37 workers walked off the job and staged a wildcat strike.  The 37 workers were fired by Air Canada. This led the union to walk out en masse at Pearson International Airport, Canada’s busiest airport and the site of Air Canada’s largest and busiest terminal.The workers said they were going to be on strike for 72 hours, just as long as the suspensions were to last. The situation on the ground was rowdy, with altercations between strikers and passers-by (including a photo of a man spitting in a ground worker’s face) and thousands of miserable stranded passengers. Job action started spreading to Montreal and other cities, with more flights being disrupted. Over 60 Air Canada flights were canceled due to the action, with dozens more delayed or threatened with cancellation.

A few moments ago, Air Canada got an injunction against the action at Pearson, reinstating all fired and suspended workers and telling employees to return to work immediately. The union is asking its members to comply and return to work.

The situation at Air Canada is tense. Workers, management and customers are all unhappy in the face of lengthy and unproductive negotiations. Management wants big cuts. Unions want to protect their jobs and benefits. In addition to the ground workers’ union, Air Canada is also in negotiation with their pilots’ union, who have also been denied their right to strike by the Harper government. Last weekend, Air Canada accused their pilots of illegal job action after enough pilots called in sick to cause widespread disruption on many weekend flights.

But when you take away a union’s legal right to strike in the middle of tense and protracted contract negotiations, what can you expect?


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Photo from Simon Ostler


Ralph Henderson
Ralph Henderson5 years ago

After prolonged attacks on unions combined with unions not representing the employees side very well for so long, I was wondering when someone would remember the wildcat strikes and how effective they were in getting things changed (not without some nasty reprisals though).
It takes a lot of guts to stage a wildcat strike, so I wouldn't be quick to judge the strikers; I seriously doubt they would do so without good cause.

Mike and Janis B.
Janis B5 years ago

We kind of sympathise with the workers since that Raitt creature was provoking their anger by taking the right to strike away and then walking onto the airport for no reason than to incite fury. She is a real pathetic yes person to Emperor Harper. However the union told them NOT to, so this really was a wildcat action.

Colleen Roome
Colleen Roome5 years ago

the right to collective bargaining was what made canada a good place to live,I was unaware that slavery was making such a big come back.

Rose Becke5 years ago


Patrick F.
Patrick f5 years ago

They are pulling this crap here in BC with the teachers too. Collective bargaining just goes right out the window when government steps in. They(BC Liberals),the most conservative govt. to ever hold office, are threatening to fine not only the union millions of dollars per day but the teachers as well to the tune of over $400.00 PER DAY.

BC Liberals....ha, not even close to being liberal.

Marianna B M.


Fred Urbasek
Past Member 5 years ago

Nancy R., Welcome to the real world.

Patrick F.
Patrick f5 years ago

This is why reasonable people don't vote for any type of conservative government, they don't hide the fact that their job is to take away rights, dispose of unions, and pander to the corporations that pay them to be in their pocket. Collective bargaining is a thing of the past.

Drusilla P.
Drusilla P5 years ago

Strikes can be no fun, but people don't strike to "annoy" their fellow citizens. They go on strike to protect their rights.
The PM was wrong, and it's understandable that the Air Canada employees reacted.

Thanks for the info.

Mary L.
Mary L5 years ago

Back people into a corner, especially when it come to wages, things get ugly fast. Tell Harper and the rest of the oligarchy to read history. Think. Read it again.

Desperate people who feel completely helpless have nothing to lose.