NAV Canada threatens workers with use of scabs

April 18, 2024


As the Canadian Air Navigation Specialists Association (CANSA) at Unifor Local 1016 continued to negotiate with NAV Canada on the Maintenance of Activities in the event of a legal strike and/or lock-out to protect the Canadian travelling public, the company has advised the local it plans to use scab labour.

“We have been fighting tooth-and-nail for the federal government to pass anti-scab legislation now,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne.

“Let Unifor’s actions at CN Autoport be a warning to other companies that our union won’t tolerate scab labour. We will defend our members’ right to strike and to free and fair collective bargaining. My message to NAVCan: Unifor is ready. All of us.”

Bill C-58, otherwise known as the federal anti-scab legislation, will help protect the right to fair collective bargaining and to strike, when necessary, a right that workers have fought for and won repeatedly. It passed second reading in the House of Commons with all-party support on Feb. 27, 2024.

On the same day NAV Canada told Unifor it plans to use replacement workers, the company publicly announced it signed a new deal with CAE Inc. to contract out the work of operational training simulation specialist members of Unifor Local 1016. CAE would now provide the generic training for flight service specialists (Unifor Local 2245) and air traffic controllers (Unifor Local 5454) instead of our Unifor training specialists.

Both sides came to an impasse in conciliation on April 12, 2024.

James Walker, President of CANSA and Unifor Local 1016, said NAV Canada made it clear to the bargaining committee that the company would not agree to the established Unifor pattern because the company feared the other four unions in bargaining would use it in arbitration against them. To add further insult, NAV Canada is seeking significant concessions from CANSA.

“This has been a very frustrating round of negotiations,” said Walker.

“We have seen delay after delay to settle with the other unions first in hopes of diluting the pattern. Now, they are resorting to bullying tactics in order to spread fear amongst our members, who voted 95% in favour of strike action. This will not be tolerated.”

In February, CANSA and NAV Canada jointly advised the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) of their efforts to negotiate a Maintenance of Activities agreement. If the parties were unable to reach a settlement, the CIRB would be required to intervene.

Unifor has advised the CIRB that given the bully tactics employed by NAV Canada the union does not see how the parties can come to terms. Unifor has asked the labour board to exercise their power under Section 87.4(6) of the Canada Labour Code.

The local represents members in Air Traffic Control Training, Operational Support, Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), Flight Data Analytics and Aeronautical Information Management at NAV Canada locations from coast-to-coast.

The CANSA bargaining team will update members with any new developments.