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Free «Air Canada Strike» Essay Sample


The issues of employees being dissatisfied with the working environment and remuneration they get in exchange of their services have been on the rise in the recent years. This has resulted into many strikes in many companies. Canada airline is one of the recent companies to be hit by this emerging trend of strikes by employees around the glob. Strikes are a sign of things not working well within an organization.

In order to get the root cause of any given form of dissatisfaction within the organization a deep analysis need to be done to identify the root cause of the problem. In most cases human resource specialists/ managers tend to treat the symptoms of a problem rather than treating the root cause of the problem. This paper seeks to investigate the various organizational behavior factors such as motivation, organization culture among other factors that could be the root cause of the strike in the Air Canada.

Brief Description of the Airline

Air Canada is one of the leading airline companies in Canada. The airline company was formed in i936 with an aim of providing planned as well as licensed air transport for cargos and passengers going to 178 different destinations in the world. The company/ airline are one of the ninth largest travelers’ airlines in the world in terms of the destinations that it covers. The airline is one of the naissance members of an alliance known as Star Alliance. The alliance comprises of 26 different airlines and was founded in 1997.



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Air Canada commercial headquarters are situated in Montreal, Quebec. The airlines biggest hub is found in Toronto Pearson International Airport which is situated in Mississauga, Ontario. The airline managed to collect CA$ 2.8 billions in the year 2008. Air Canada area service provider is a company known as Air Canada Express.

Mission and Vision

The company mission is to connect Canada with various parts of the world. In order to achieve this mission the airline has 68 destinations in all the parts of the world. This helps to connect Canada with all parts of the world. This creates a better ground for creating trade links as well as political links between Canada and other parts of the world. On the other hand the airline’s vision is to build loyalty through innovation and passion. This is done by ensuring that the needs of the customers from the various parts of the world are fully meet and satisfied.

Organization culture

The company’s culture is one of the where all employees are valued in terms of their inputs. The company values the entire workforce despite their positions and they are treated. The culture of team work is encouraged within all departments of the organization even though this has not been fully realized. The organization values its customers and the community around its because its from these very important stakeholders that it is able to survive.

The airline has a drive for excellence within all its operational areas. This is done by encouraging innovation in all operation areas as well as ensuring that high levels of standards are maintained while serving the dealing with different stakeholders. There are informal organization within the airline which is formed depending with the position that one holds within the organization. These informal groupings are a great source of resistance within the organization especially when changes are being introduced within the organization.

The company has allowed its employees to join as well as form labor unions. These unions have attracted membership from all workers within the organization. They are used as avenues airing workers grievances as well as negotiating with the employer for better terms of work. The airline values the family unit where each an every worker is entitled to a certain family bonus at the end of each financial year.

 Company Membership

Air Canada comprises of the following affiliate members Air Cana Cargo, Air Canada Express, Air Canada Jetz, Air Canada Vacation and Aveos Fleet Performance. These are affiliate members of the company who provide various services on the behalf of the company.

Company Structure

The airline is run by the board of directors who help safeguards the interest of the public in the company. The head of operation within the company is the chief executive. He represents the employees in the boards meetings. The company has department which are headed by departmental heads. In each and every department there sections which heads and they are the one in charge of the various


The Airline Problem

There seem to a problem within the airline and urgent steps need to be taken to identify the root cause of this problem within the air Canada. Strike and absenteeism from work are two main symptom of a bigger problem within the airline. The worker going on strike is a sign of them not being motivated as well as being dissatisfied with the working environment. Motivation can either be internal or external. In order to advice the management on the remedies to take to improve the motivation aspect within the organization it is important first to discuss various theories of motivations (Tompkins & Jonathan, 2005). The airline has a major problem in terms of high absenteeism of worker. This can be seen in the rise in number of pilots seeking for leaves in a given period of time.

Another major symptom that indicates that there is a problem within the airline is frustration expressed by the employees. This come out clearly when the three fired worker are very angry with the minister. These are signs that they are not happy with the way they are treated within the company. Frustrations are signs of a lowly motivated work force. These call human resource managers to investigate the root cause of the problem that is within the company rather than threatening the workers that they will be sacked.

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The strike is a symptom of a major problem within the company. The workers have reach to appoint of no return where they decided that they know have to express their grievances within all means available. The strike is a clear indication that there failure within the organization structure. The organization structure seems as if it does not provide room for the workers to express their grievances. Therefore, this calls for restructuring of the organization to provide room for expression of the workers grievance through diplomacy rather than for them resulting into strikes which are very expensive to the airline.

The issue of workers of the airline being absent from work or asking for leaves at the same time can be attributed to the following.

First, stress can be a major reason why the employees of the company are seeking for leaves at very high rate. The demands from the working environment may be too much for the pilots of the company thereby resulting to stress in among the employees. This a very gangerous trend within the company that may prove to be expensive in the long run as it is going to affect the employees input in their work. That why the pilots of the airline are giving fake excuses to keep a way from work due to stress in the work place. This shows a major motivational problem underlying within the organization.

Secondly, work routine can be another major cause of work absenteeism within the airline. The employees may be tired of going the same procedures of doing the job each and every day. This may be the case for the employees who have been in the company for many years. The issue of routine in the work place causes boredom among the employees that resulting to them to seek for leaves to be out of work place for at least some time.

Thirdly, job satisfaction is another issue that may be causing the employees of Air Canada to seek for leaves. If the employees are not fully satisfied with the work they are doing they will be dissatisfied resulting into low levels of motivation among them. The low levels of motivation are translated into absenteeism from the work place.

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            Finally, personal attitude toward work is another major cause of absenteeism from work. If the employees have a negative attitude toward work place they will tend to be absent from the work place. The late of absenteeism of the airlines worker is alarming and this indicates that there is an indication that some of the employees have negative personal attitude toward their work.

Application of the Motivation Theories to Air Canada Case to Solving Low Motivation Problem

In order to resolve the various problems that the airline is facing especially on the issue of motivation the various theories of motivation can be applied by the management to build a highly motivated work force to avoid the kind of problems that the airline is facing to day.

Although Owen is regarded to be very paternalistic in his analysis, his input can be said to be of a significant importance in the various theories of enthusiasm. At some stage in the early days of the 19 th century, Owen’s cloth factory which was located in New Lanark in Scotland can be said to have been the prospect of a number of novel customs of treating workers. His insight was driven by the argument that people in a way were like machines.

A range of leading theories of motivation as well as motivators hardly ever craft mention ‘to the carrot and the stick’ theory. This allegory relates, obviously, to the usage of rewards plus penalties one at a time to encourage preferred conduct. It originates from the aged tale that in order to ensure that donkey moves, one has to put a carrot at the front of him or alternatively wipe him using a stick from the behind. In spite of the various researches on motivation theories, rewards as well as punishment are still regarded as strong drivers. For years, nevertheless, they were also often reflection of them being the only inner forces that might inspire people. There is need for the management of the airline to build a well motivated workforce by ensuring that it uses money as motivation force that will induce workers to perform in a better way

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In unison, in all motivation theories have the inducements that resemble what was recognized in ‘carrot’. Frequently this can be viewed as the money that is used by modern organizations to pay as well as give bonuses. Although cash can not be viewed as the only source motivation force, it is an important force and it will continue to be one over the years to come.

The proponent of this theory argues that money can be used as motivating force to induce people within an organization to work hard toward achieving organizational goals. Withdrawal of this important force leads to ill motivated work force that will contribute less to the development of the organization. Managers should therefore; they use this important motivator to ensure that their work force is well motivated to avoid problems that are likely to arise due to lack of motivation within the working environment.

Abraham argued that human beings have various needs and these needs tend to influence their behavior. He argued that human needs are organized in a hierarchy from the most basic ones to the most complex ones. He identified psychological needs as being the most important needs in human life and the man always strive to meet them before meeting other needs. These basic needs include food, sexual satisfaction as well as shelter.

He identified second level needs as being safety needs or what can be referred to as security needs. These include, job security, retirement plans, medical plans, pension plans among other crucial security needs. The third level, this level of human needs take into consideration social needs. Social needs according to Abraham includes, need to be loved, to be accepted and to belong somewhere.

The fourth level of human needs according to Abraham, take into consideration esteem or ego needs. These needs include social status, promotions, title among other ego needs. The last level of human need encompasses self actualization needs. This is the highest level that any human being can achieve in life. There no specific needs that have been identified in this level because different people have different self actualization needs.

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The management of the company the airline can ensure that psychological human needs of their employees are well catered for by giving them enough salaries that can help them meet their various basic needs. On the part of security needs, Air Canada the management should ensure that the jobs of its employee are secure. If the job security of its employees was assured the three employees would not have been victimized for the incident that happened when they minister was addressing them. It is clear from the incident that the job security of the employees of the airline is not secure. This can be supported by the incident; it shows that expressing ones disappointment with the management of the company can result into one being sacked. It is a clear indication that the employees of the company have no rights to express or air their grievances in relation to poor work environment.

This theory is also known as acquired needs theory. David argues that there are three different types of needs that motivate people in any given organization. These three needs that motivate people include, need for achievement, high need for power and high need for affiliation. Those people with high need for achieving something in life are said to prefer setting their own objectives as well as goals. They tend to formulate goals that are moderate in nature but achievable. They have high need to solve those problems at hand. These kinds of people tend to be result oriented and they prefer working environment that provide them with immediate feed back on the progress of their work.

Those people, who have high need for power, tend to have high need for both institutional as well as personal power. They usually have the need of controlling others. A person with these kind of needs tend to have tendency of supervising and checking whether needs go according to plans. In order to ensure that employees of the airline who have high need for power are motivated the Air Canada management can give them supervision roles.

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Finally people who have the high need for affiliation according to David tend to have a desire to be liked as well as being in good terms with others. They are always concerned about other people welfare as well as maintaining good personal relationship with different people within the work environment.

Fredrick argued that in human motivation two factors exist and these factors are hygiene and motivator factors. He identified motivator factors such as recognition, good jobs, challenging jobs and achievement. On the other hand he identified hygiene factors such as security, salaries, company policies, status and technical supervision. The management needs to ensure that the company policies give room for workers to express that dissatisfaction without them being victimized for their actions. This will help address the problem that leads to the strike.

Adam’s argued that employees in any given organization should be treated equally. He noted that employees tend to compare the outcomes that they get from their work with those outcomes from those of employees from other organizations who are in the same positions as theirs. When inequity is noted they develop a tendency of putting fewer inputs in their work and this may create problems within the organization such as delays. In equality can also result into high turnover of employees from the organization which may be a major problem to the management of the organization to handle.

The major problem that resulted to Air Canada strike is lack of motivation among the employees. The strike in one of the symptoms to indicate that the striking workers are not well motivated work force. The other symptoms of a problem of motivation within the airline is high absenteeism among it pilots. This is a clear indication that there is a bigger problem that is within the company that needs to be resolved. In my views, workers are using the issue of three of their colleague being dismissed illegally as a way of communicating to the management of the airline that there bigger problem that need to be resolved (Weightman, 2008).

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Another way of raising employees’ motivation within the airline is by carrying out a research to identify how the corporate structure, management, technology and culture may have caused frustration among the employees of the airline who were involved in the strike. The management should ensure that employees are not punished for being innovative, sharing their ideas and expressing their disappointment on the way they are being treated by their seniors.

The major problem that can be seen in the Air Canada is lack of job security for its employees. That why they have opted for the strike to express their anger in relation to some of their colleagues being sacked without justifiable reasons. Abraham Maslow in his theory of hierarchy of need argued that in order to ensure that the work force of any given organization is well motivated the second level need should be assured.

 Another issue that can help the airline address the root cause of the strike is ensuring that employees are fully engaged in various developments within the company. Decision that affect employees should be well thought of by examining their impact on the employer’s employee relation. In order to avoid the problem of the employees feeling that their needs are not taken into account when introducing certain changes within the airline the management should ensure that its fully engage them in all the developments to avoid resistance from the employees.

Employees’ engagement in major decision relating to management of human resource within the airline can be enhanced by engaging employee’s union representatives in those decisions. The decision that was taken to discharge the three employees by the management would have been better if the union representative were fully informed on the disciplinary action that was taken against those employees. The employee’s union representatives should be engaged in disciplinary procedures before any of the worker being disciplined. This can help in resolving the various problems that arises when employees feel that some of them were treated unfairly when being discharged from their work.

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In order to address the issue of absenteeism in the airline the management should develop a comprehensive work leave policy which takes into accounts the airlines objectives and values. This will play a great role in reducing the number of absenteeism among the employees of the company as the management will have the authority to regulate the number of people who are on leave or seeking leave. The airline management should develop mechanisms of monitoring employees work attendance. This can be done by employing employees work attendance sheet on a daily basis. The airline should develop good work place communication systems to adequately address various issues regarding the impact of one being absent from work without any permission.

The managers as well as supervisors of the airline should be trained to understand the organization behavior behind work absenteeism. By so doing they will be in a position to indentify genuine cases of employees who need to be given permission to be on leave. The airline management should come up with programs that actively involve the employees in participating in addressing various challenges that the airline is faced with on regular basis.

Another step that can be taken to address the issue of work absenteeism is by building a well motivated work force. This can be done by ensuring that the airline provides a favorable environment for both personal and career development. This will play a critical role of building a well motivated work force that reducing the number of employees being absent from their work.


The case of Air Canada employees strike has revealed that there various organizational behavior problems that are the root cause of various strikes within the organization. It is very important for organization behavior experts to ensure that they treat the root cause of the problem within the organization rather than focusing their efforts in symptoms. Treating the symptom rather than the root cause of the problem at hand can be an expensive venture in the long run.

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In the case of Air Canada it seems the management addressed the symptoms of the problems facing the employees of the airline by firing some of them rather than addressing the root cause of the problem. This has resulted into very huge losses to the company in terms of loss of revenue as result of cancellation of various flights as result of the industrial action taken by the employees. The industrial action taken by the employees is justifiable because they are seeking for their working environment conditions to be improved. The main issue in the action leading to the strike is lack of job security. This can be addressed by looking at the root cause which is lack of motivation among the employees of the airline.

It is very important to study the over all organization culture in order to identify the root causes of problem within the organization. The culture within the organization can clearly tell the kinds of problem that the various stakeholders have and this can aids in avoiding treating the symptoms at the expense of the root cause of the problem. The process of analyzing the organization behavior in order to address motivational problems requires a lot of soberness. It also calls for engagement of all the stakeholders within the organization (Robbins, 2003).

The key factors that have been proposed by various scholars on how to build a well motivated work force is by ensuring that the human needs of all the workers are fully satisfied to avoid problems within the organization. The management should ensure that employees are fairly treated by treating them equally.

In conclusion, it is always important to build a well motivated work force within any given organization. If the management of the organization used the right channels of handling the behavior that was exhibited by the three employees that problem of the strike, which has resulted to heavy losses to the company would have been avoided. 


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