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Ottawa could order Air Canada back to work if strike goes ahead

The federal government could step in if Air Canada and the union representing its flight attendants don’t reach an agreement.

Negotiations are continuing ahead of a Wednesday strike deadline. About 6,800 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) could walk off the job as of Wednesday if an agreement isn’t reached.

Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt issued a warning to the two sides to get a deal done and avoid certain government intervention.

“Canadian elected us with a strong mandate to protect the economic recovery, and on that basis, we have put notice on the order paper today that we have intention to introduce legislation should there be a work stoppage,” Raid said at a news conference.

Raitt was scheduled to meet with the two sides at 5 p.m. ET in Ottawa, where she will push for a deal.

The union and airline have been in round-the-clock talks since the weekend.

The union presented an offer in Montreal on Saturday. The key areas of dispute are wages, pensions and crew rest, working conditions and work rules.

Air Canada responded with a counter-offer on Sunday. The details of the offer and the counter-offer have not been made public.

Negotiators for the two sides have been meeting since Sept. 1 trying to hammer out a second contract that can win member approval. Flight attendants have been without a contract since March 31.

If you have travel plans with Air Canada, you can change your flight without penalty. The company also said it will operate a partial schedule in the event of a strike, but has not elaborated on its contingency plans.

With files from The Canadian Press