A couple thoughts:
One labour professor's take on this. I won't comment on it or its links.
Prof David Doorey
1) Piloting Fatigued is Illegal: Not directly related to the article, but he mentions that the law forbids flying when fatigued. It will be impossible for Air Canada to prove that the pilots that called in "sick" were not indeed fatigued. They could all claim that requiring them to fly would be asking them to break the law, which Air Canada is not allowed to do. Where it was ruled that their "job action" is illegal, any subsequent direct punishments issued to pilots will be a tightrope walk for management. If they take action against any particular pilot, he or she can just claim that they were fatigued and unable to fly, as they would be breaking the law. Their defense will simply be that Air Canada in effect would be punishing them for not breaking the law. I don't see how AC can win that one.
2) Unfair System: He claims that it is no surprise that this is happening and he's right. He couldn't be more right when he says, "Workers will resist when they feel an unfair system is being thrust upon them." The unfair system is thank to government intervention. Therefore, it is the Conservative government's intervention into the bargaining process that is causing this resistance.
3) No arbitration: Something that concerns me as well: "If the government were truly concerned that a work stoppage at Air Canada would wreak havoc on the economy, why would it not just refer the matter to arms-length arbitration, allow the parties to select an agreeable arbitrator, and then let the arbitrator listen to the arguments and make a decision?" So not only has the government interfered in the labour relations of a private company, but it has clearly picked sides. As a supporter of the NDP, if I were ultra-partisan, I would side with labour no matter what. However, I like to think I'm rational. I would be perfectly fine with back-to-work legislation if it was sent to a fair and independent third-party for binding arbitration. That wasn't done. Moreover, the employees probably would have seen this as a more neutral and fair process, likely meaning we wouldn't see these kinds of disruptions. Granted I'm speculating, but I believe that's a fair assessment.
On this point, Doorey also raises an interesting question as to why Air Canada hasn't put this to arbitration. Well that should be obvious. With the government's blessing, they hold all of the cards. They have no reason to go to binding arbitration. Especially since there's very little heat on the company about any of this. Sure a handful of people are blaming them, but those that don't blame labour are split in their criticism of the federal government and the company. Those that blame labour, blame labour period. Until the public starts holding the company as accountable as they hold labour, Air Canada has no reason to go to arbitration because they're not seen as the "bad guys."
Here's the questions he poses at the end that I think are worth reflecting upon.
What do you think? Do you think that the Federal government’s form of intervention in the Air Canada dispute has benefited or harmed Air Canada?
Do you think the government’s intervention is fair to the pilots?
What do you think of the pilots’ efforts to resist the model?