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Air Canada resumes flights



Published: Fri, January 21, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The airline agreed not to discipline employees who punched out for others.

TORONTO (AP) -- Air Canada resumed flights and agreed Thursday not to fire any workers being investigated over allegations of "corrupt conduct" ahead of a four-hour illegal strike that stranded thousands of passengers at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

Air Canada flights out of Toronto were grounded Wednesday night after ground crew workers at the country's largest airport walked off the job when the airline began reviewing allegations that ground crew employees punched out time cards for colleagues.

In a letter to employees Thursday, Air Canada said it reached a "fresh start" agreement that ensured no workers will be fired over allegations of "corrupt conduct" by ground crew employees. But it warned anyone caught punching out someone else's time card in the future would be fired.

The 3,400 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers will not be disciplined after 110 workers walked off the job at 4:20 p.m. Wednesday.

The strike was resolved about four hours later and international flights were allowed to depart soon afterward. Domestic flights weren't cleared for takeoff until the following morning.

Airline spokeswoman Laura Cooke said some domestic flights were departing late on Thursday, since the airline needed more time to rebook passengers whose flights were canceled the night before.

'Corrupt conduct'

The company said an investigation revealed some 140 ground crew employees, many of whom help guide planes on runways and alongside terminal gates, "were fraudulently abusing the time and attendance system" by swiping other employees' cards for them.

Employees were not aware of video surveillance, which has been in use since Nov. 30, according to Machinists spokesman Bill Trbovich.

Employees are supposed to call an Air Canada phone number to note the changes to their shifts if they are asked to work through lunch but allowed to leave an hour early, for example. The information is then processed in a company database.

But Trbovich said the phone line often did not work, so an employee would get a colleague to punch out a card for them after leaving early so the card wouldn't incorrectly show a missing hour of work they might not get paid for.




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