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Travellers up in the air, WestJet pilots could strike May 19

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Travellers up in the air, WestJet pilots could strike May 19

Unread post by bimjim » Thu May 10, 2018

http://www.570news.com/2018/05/09/trave ... ke-may-19/

Traveller plans up in the air, WestJet pilots could strike May 19
Jonathan Muma
May 9, 2018

Canadians planning a spring getaway with WestJet may need to make alternate arrangements. The airline’s pilots are considering a strike vote which could lead to them walking off the job as early as May 19.

Captain Dave Colquhoun, the union chairman representing Calgary pilots, told CityNews one of the biggest issues is the outsourcing of pilots for WestJet’s new ultra-low fare carrier Swoop. “The company right now is using pilots that aren’t WestJet pilots, or is planning to use non-WestJet pilots to fly those airplanes,” he said. The concern from the company is that it will need to raise costs if it has to use the current group of unionized pilots when the new service launches June 20.

Colquhoun added they want some job protection, pointing out there is a worldwide pilot shortage. “What we need to do is negotiate working conditions and wages that attract pilots to WestJet and also retain the pilots that we have,” explained Colquhoun.

The pilots have been negotiating a contract since September and Colquhoun said they felt they needed to ramp up the pressure and that lead to the strike vote. “What it did was in a 14 day period, the company made itself available to us 14 days in a row,” he said. “Prior to that, we’d been available 24/7 and now the company is also willing to come to the table and talk to us which is great.”

The uncertainty has led to fewer bookings and WestJet is at risk of breaking its streak of 50 consecutive profitable quarters. The airline said it will refund passengers whose travel plans are disrupted by any strike action.

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