Former Aveos workers have won their battle against Air Canada
Air Canada violated federal law by failing to keep maintenance centers in Montreal, Winnipeg and Mississauga operational during the collapse of the Aveos a decade ago, Quebec’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of thousands of former workers on Thursday.
“Air Canada failed to take serious steps to comply with the law after closing down Aveos,” wrote Justice Marie-Christine Hivon, who concluded there was a “continuous violation” of the law from March 2012 to June 2016.
Almost 2,200 former employees are affected by the results of the class action. Most of them were based in Montreal.
In a video message posted on his Facebook page shortly after the verdict, Jean Poirier, the representative of the Aveos union at the time of the company’s closure, said he was “very, very moved”.
“We won! We won against Air Canada. We won everything. David won against Goliath. 14 years of fighting, my friends.”
He urged Air Canada shareholders who may appeal the ruling to start “on a fresh foot” and resolve the dispute.
In the 154-page decision, Judge Hivon ordered the airline to compensate the workers for loss of income and employment, as well as for loss of social benefits.
Air Canada will also have to compensate workers for: “stress, questioning, diminished self-esteem, insecurity, feelings of injustice and loss of enjoyment in life.” It will also have to pay individual claims for those who have suffered moral damages, such as psychological problems, insomnia, family problems, divorce and suicide.
However, Judge Hivon found that the former Aveos employees failed to prove that Aveos’ collapse was caused by bad faith or willful misconduct by Air Canada. Therefore, it rejected the $110 million in damages.
In a statement, Air Canada said it “always acted in good faith in this case” and noted that the court found that the company did not cause the collapse of the Aveos, ruling out punitive damages.
Regarding the possibility of appealing the verdict, the carrier said that it will consider the next steps before deciding.
Under Air Canada’s Public Participation Act, the company was obligated to maintain its Montreal, Winnipeg and Mississauga hubs, a task it had contracted out to Aveos, which went bankrupt in March 2012. The federal government changed the law in June 2016 to ease it. that duty
The court was clear that the use of subcontracting did not relieve Air Canada of its legal obligations when the subcontractor ceased operations.
Also, the change in the law was not retroactive and did not have the effect of clarifying the meaning that the law always had, contrary to the company’s argument.
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