June 16, 2009

Unions cut Air Canada pension slack

All five of troubled Air Canada's unions have agreed to give it a 21-month grace period in pension funding, pending federal approval, union officials said.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents more than 6,700 flight attendants, and the Air Canada Pilots Association came to the agreement Monday night, the Globe and Mail reported.

The money-losing airline will not be required to make past service contributions for 21 months, starting July 30, the agreement says. Air Canada's pension contributions are now about $2.9 billion behind, the report said.

As part of the deal, the five unions will nominate a representative to the board of directors, and a profit-sharing program will begin in 2010 when the economy is expected to be healthier, union officials said.

Along with the unions' voluntary pay freeze, top executives would also see their salaries frozen and bonuses canceled until the spring of 2011, the report said.

On June 8, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the Canadian Auto Workers and the Canadian Air Line Dispatchers Association agreed to the same deal.

Because the deal circumvents federal law, Parliament must approve it, the report said.