A Set Back For Air Canada Pilots Age 60 Retirement Rule


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A Set Back For Air Canada Pilots Age 60 Retirement Rule

By Mike Mitchell

May 9, 2011 - The Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) has completely dismissed all complaints filed by 67 pilots opposed to retirement at age 60 who alleged that they had not been fairly represented by the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA).  

Air Canada pilots first negotiated through collective agreement the retirement age of 60 in 1957. However, in recent years pilots have tried to renegotiate the mandatory retirement age to age 65.

Air Canada Pilots Association is the largest professional pilot group in Canada, representing the more than 3,000 pilots who operate Air Canada?s mainline fleet.

The International Civil Aviation Organization has recommended that the age limit for airline pilots be increased to 65. However, the measure is limited to two-pilot crews where the other pilot is younger than age 60. ?We have been completely exonerated by the CIRB of all charges leveled at us by the complainants,? said ACPA President Captain Paul Strachan. ?We are heartened by the judgment of this impartial body that our Association has acted in complete good faith.?

In dismissing the complaint, the CIRB noted that ?the union took the complainants? claims very seriously. It conducted surveys of its membership, commissioned studies on the issue, considered the history of the mandatory retirement provision in the airline context, the existing state of the law, and the interests of the membership as a whole.  

The union came to a considered decision that it could not support the complainants? case. The Board is unable to find that the union?s refusal to file a grievance on behalf of the complainants was arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith.?  

?This decision reconfirms our belief that we are on solid ground in our approach to the age of retirement issue,? Captain Strachan said. ?We believe our members? have the right to negotiate a common age of retirement through collective bargaining and we remain confident that we will overcome any legal attack on our rights.?  

The CIRB also found that ?It was not discriminatory for the union to determine that the complainants were not entitled, by the terms of the collective agreement, to be treated differently than any other pilot in the bargaining unit with respect to the age of retirement.?


Captain Strachan noted that the CIRB?s findings echoed what the pilots association has been saying for years. ?It is absurd to argue that Air Canada pilots are discriminating against themselves by negotiating a common age of retirement. Pilots are aware of the retirement and pension provisions when they take the job.  

?They understand that a common age of retirement provides fair and equal access to career advancement opportunities. It is contradictory for those who have benefitted from these provisions throughout their careers to say it is somehow unfair that we ensure all our other members enjoy the same benefits.?


The CIRB?s decision puts an end to the process initiated by Raymond Hall in August 2010 and may lead to other complaints being dropped. The CIRB decision also noted there were ?a number of other similar complaints currently pending? and said that ?the Board considers it appropriate to deal with this complaint in order to provide the parties with guidance for the future.?  

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