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Interview with Air Canada activist

March 22, 2012

Whats the mood here at Air Canada during this wild cat strike?

The mood is a combination of anger, fed-upness, and confidence of finally standing up, people have their backs up against the wall, and have had enough of putting up with this for 10 years

How do people feel about Lisa Riatt and the Tory party?

People here are disgusted, even those workers who have supported the Tories in the past aren’t going to any longer. When your basic rights are being trampled on and people feel there’s no respect, no chance to even negotiate a fair deal after ten years of concessions.

How did this start?

The way this started was that the minister was walking through the airport when some employees who had been directly affected by her legislation applauded her in a sarcastic manner thanking her for her contribution to our situation. Corporate security accompanying the minister pulled the workers aside after she complained about this and suspended them. When others heard about this on the shift we began to walk out in solidarity.

What about the walkouts in Montreal and Quebec City? Do people feel stronger because that solidarity was shown?

Absolutely! It reflects the widespread sense that enough is enough. It also shows the company that at a rank-and-file level, we are organizing. The solidarity shown is going to help strengthen us in the fights ahead.

Are there plans to continue top link up with workers at other airports and unions? Is there a growing network of activists and militants through the different airports who want to stand up to the corporate greed of Air Canada?

Absolutely – we’re seeing day by day deepening roots and connections and networks growing up organically through each experience – the CUPE fight, the CAW fight, now our fight each is contributing to a growing strength at the grass roots at Pearson and I’m sure other airports.

What do you think about the banner that was here that read “OCCUPY YYZ”, will that have any currency in the workplace?

The banner has been here before, but I think it has more resonance now given the current situation and the growing anger. I think that more and more of us are seeing that this is going to be a fight that has to go beyond just ourselves but links up with others not just at the airlines but other workers fighting back, in order to win. We’ve made our first stand and I hope this builds our strength at Pearson and elsewhere.

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