Union lashes out at Air Canada CEO's salary

VANCOUVER Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:58am EDT

Air Canada's President and CEO Calin Rovinescu attends the company's annual shareholders meeting in Montreal, May 27, 2010. REUTERS/Shaun Best

Air Canada's President and CEO Calin Rovinescu attends the company's annual shareholders meeting in Montreal, May 27, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Shaun Best

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Salary and benefits of C$4.6 million paid to Air Canada's (ACa.TO) (ACb.TO) chief executive last year were a "disgrace" after years of belt-tightening in the industry, one of the unions, currently in labour talks with the airline, said on Monday.

"The Air Canada bargaining committee and our union will be demanding equal improvements and solid gains from Air Canada," Ken Lewenza, national president of the Canadian Auto Workers CAW.L said.

Air Canada's shares are down by more than a third this year, partly on worries about strikes at Canada's biggest carrier as it negotiates new labour contracts with all its unions.

The CAW represents 3,800 customer service and sales agents at the carrier. The federal government recently appointed a conciliator to help talks along after little progress was made.

Air Canada's management proxy circular, released last Friday, disclosed that CEO Calin Rovinescu received total compensation of nearly C$4.6 million in 2010, up 75 percent on the C$2.6 million he received the year before.

Air Canada said the compensation "reflects the terms of Mr. Rovinescu's original employment contract of April 2009 when he was recruited to return to Air Canada" and that "these arrangements are not new". It declined to comment further.

The contract also includes a retention payment of C$5 million for Rovinescu if he stays until March 31, 2012. (Reporting by Nicole Mordant; editing by Rob Wilson)

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