Air Canada customer service agents have gone on strike after 11th-hour talks failed to reach a new labor agreement between the union representing 3,800 employees and Canada’s biggest airline.
Air Canada has vowed to continue operating a full schedule of flights despite the strike by call center and airport customer service agents, but passengers are warned to expect major delays and long lines at airports, as the airline heads into the busy summer travel season. The airline has a contingency plan that will see managers working at airports and call centers.
“Rest assured that we will continue to operate our regular schedule, and have implemented a contingency service plan to minimize impact to our customers. Existing bookings will be honored and future bookings welcomed,” Air Canada said in a message to customers.
But passengers are being warned to arrive at the airport hours earlier than they normally would. The airline has asked customers to avoid checking in baggage, to check in online, and to monitor the strike situation through the Air Canada website due to long waits to reach the company’s call center staff.
The Canadian Auto Workers union had presented Air Canada with 72 hours notice of a strike on Friday after 10 weeks of negotiations had failed to produce a deal, with the key sticking point being proposed changes to the company’s pension plan, Reuters reports.
The air carrier wants to move new hires to a defined contribution plan, and away from a defined benefit plan with a guaranteed payout, as it looks to reduce its pension deficit, which stood at $2.16 billion at the start of 2011, according to Reuters.