UPDATE 5-Ottawa steps in to block Air Canada strike
* Strike could have started ThursdayBy Allison MartellTORONTO, Oct 11 (Reuters) - The Canadian government will step in to make sure a strike at Air Canada will not start on Thursday morning as scheduled, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said on Tuesday.Raitt told CTV news she would refer the dispute between Air Canada and its flight attendants’ union to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board on Wednesday, a move that would suspend any strike action for an undefined period.”What that does mean is that while the matter is before the CIRB there cannot be a work stoppage,” Raitt said in a CTV interview.She said she did not know how long it would take the CIRB to rule on the dispute, but Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline, said its flights would operate as normal on Thursday. The CIRB is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal responsible for administering and interpreting parts of the Labour Code.Ottawa had warned that a strike could damage a fragile Canadian economy, but Parliament’s absence for a week had made it difficult to pass back-to-work legislation to prevent a strike by the 6,800 flight attendants.The Conservative government twice drafted back-to-work legislation to halt work stoppages at Air Canada, although union and management agreed to tentative deals before either set of legislation passed.The flight attendants on Sunday rejected a tentative deal between the airline and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and the union gave strike notice for Thursday.The union had said it was willing to resume talks, but Air Canada appeared wary, given that union members twice rejected contracts that union negotiators recommended.”We have to question the legitimacy of the union’s representation and the entire collective bargaining process. CUPE leadership have failed to secure ratification of two separate tentative agreements,” a spokeswoman said.Raitt said last month that a strike at Air Canada could strand as many as 65,000 passengers on its first day and analysts have said a work stoppage by the flight attendants would virtually ground the airline.Meanwhile, Toronto’s Pearson airport, Air Canada’s main travel hub, has faced other traffic delays due to job action by disgruntled security screening staff.Garda World Security Corp , the employer of the screening staff, said it had suspended 74 officers and begun legal action against them for refusing to honor a separate CIRB injunction to stop their work slowdown.The continued job action at Pearson brings into question how effective the government’s plan will be to halt an Air Canada strike by referring the dispute to the same board.Shares of Air Canada closed down 2.1 percent at C$1.38 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. WestJet shares were up 14 Canadian cents at C$13.04.
BlackBerry problems hit four continents
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd, which is losing share of the corporate email market it once took for granted, said it was working on the problem but gave no details of the cause.”Some users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), India, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina are experiencing messaging and browsing delays. We are working to restore normal service as quickly as possible,” it said in a statement.”We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused,” said RIM, which earlier on Tuesday said it had resolved problems disrupting its services in EMEA.RIM is already facing calls from some investors for a break-up, sale or change of management following dismal recent results and a lackluster reception of its PlayBook tablet computer, designed to challenge Apple Inc’s iPad.Its previous dominance of the corporate email market, in which it locked organizations into its proprietary, secure servers, is being challenged by other smartphone makers led by the Apple iPhone.”The current situation with the BlackBerry outages couldn’t come at a worse time for RIM, following some harsh criticism in recent months,” Informa Telecoms & Media analyst Malik Saadi said in a statement.”Some businesses may see this as a good reason to re-evaluate their reliance on centralized servers and instead look to investing in more corporately controlled servers.”Not only would this enable IT departments to minimize the risk of unforeseen collapses, but it could also give employees more flexibility to use their own devices.”Network operators and users in EMEA tweeted that email and BlackBerry Messenger services were not working from around 1100 GMT. Reuters correspondents also reported problems with email and instant messenger services.Network operator T-Mobile said on its website that the problems were due to a European-wide outage on the Blackberry network.It said: “RIM has apologized for the interruption to services and said it’s working to restore normal operations.”Earlier, RIM said it had restored BlackBerry services in the region, some 20 hours after users in EMEA and India first reported problems with email and BlackBerry Messenger.