Westjet Pilots Approve Strike Mandate

Westjet Pilots Approve Strike Mandate

WestJet warned on Tuesday that its bookings have slowed as passengers respond to the threat of a potential labour disruption.

Negotiations will continue but the vote allows pilots to walk off the job as early as next weekend.

Calgary-based WestJet pilots are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).

Pilots for the WestJet airline company have given their union a mandate to strike by a vote of 91 per cent.

"The goal is-and always has been-to secure a fair collective agreement that brings stability to the airline, and not to strike", said Capt. Rob McFadyen, chairman of WestJet's ALPA Master Executive Council in the statement released on Thursday.

In a statement, the ALPA says the union will continue to negotiate with the airline but that its leaders can call a strike if negotiations break down.


"Today the pilots made it very clear with a very unified voice that these issues are very important to us, and they are unified in making sure that we do achieve that contract that the pilots expect".

Conciliation-similar to U.S. mediation-includes 60 days of negotiations and a cooling-off period before a strike can take place. But the union says it will not take any action before Canada's Victoria Day holiday weekend ends.

The union says there are large differences between it and the company with regards compensation, working conditions and job security. "We are certain our guests will appreciate that this update confirms their travel will be unaffected over the Victoria Day long weekend". Without a deal in place with current employee groups, the airline is hiring many pilots from outside of Canada-including many Canadian nationals, it said.

Sims said the airline remains at the negotiation table to "drive a sustainable agreement".

The Montreal-based airline said it will use larger planes on some flights from its main hub in Toronto to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax, from Vancouver to Calgary, Edmonton, and from Calgary to Montreal.

WestJet's Canadian counterpart, Air Canada, will be adding additional frequencies on domestic trans-continental routes to help cover the gap that could be left as a result of ongoing negotiations between WestJet and their pilots.

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