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Canada airline WestJet cancels greater than 400 flights after strike by mechanics union

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Striking plane upkeep engineers and technical employees represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association union stand in a picket line in opposition to Westjet Airlines at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada June 29, 2024.
| Photo Credit: Reuters

Canada’s second largest airline, WestJet, stated it canceled 407 flights affecting 49,000 passengers after the upkeep staff union introduced it went on strike.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association stated its members began to strike Friday night as a result of the airline’s “unwillingness to negotiate with the union” made it inevitable.

The shock strike affecting worldwide and home flights got here after the federal authorities issued a ministerial order for binding arbitration on Thursday. That adopted two weeks of turbulent discussions with the union on a brand new deal.

WestJet stated it is going to proceed to park plane by means of Sunday for the lengthy weekend culminating in Canada Day on Monday. The airline has about 200 plane and says they’ll function roughly 30 by Sunday night.

The airline’s CEO, Alexis von Hoensbroech, put the blame for the state of affairs squarely on what he stated was a “rogue union from the U.S.” that was making an attempt to make inroads in Canada.

Von Hoensbroech stated that, so far as the airline was involved, bargaining with the union had come to an finish as soon as the federal government directed the dispute to binding arbitration.

“This makes a strike totally absurd because the reason you actually do a strike is because you need to exercise pressure on the bargaining table,” he stated. “If there is no bargaining table it makes no sense, there shouldn’t be a strike.”

He added the union had rejected a contract supply that will have made the airline’s mechanics the “best-paid in the country.”

In an update to its membership, the union negotiating committee referenced an order by the Canada Industrial Relations Board that does not explicitly bar any strikes or lockouts as the tribunal undertakes arbitration.

Sean McVeigh, a WestJet aircraft maintenance engineer picketing Saturday at Toronto Pearson International Airport Terminal 3, said the strike is an attempt to force the airline to return to a “respectful negotiation.”

McVeigh stated the union regrets any inconvenience precipitated to passengers.

“However, the reason they (passengers) have possibly missed a flight or had to cancel is due to the reason that WestJet is not respectfully sitting down at the table and negotiating,” he stated alongside roughly 20 others on the picket line.

“We take on a lot of responsibility and we would just like to be appreciated financially,” he stated.

At Pearson, WestJet passengers Samin Sahan and Samee Jan stated that they had been planning to depart Saturday with prolonged members of the family on a visit to Calgary that had been deliberate for six to eight months.

Mr. Sahan stated that they had acquired emails earlier within the day telling them their flight had been rescheduled for Monday, however they went to the terminal anyway. He stated their efforts to hunt clarification mixed with the strike had left their journey plans up within the air.

“This inaction is hurting a lot of people, their own company as well as their customers who will likely no longer be their customers ever again,” Mr. Sahan stated.

Jan referred to as the state of affairs “sad.”

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