The union representing pilots at WestJet has begun balloting members to approve a strike, after six months of negotiations with the Canadian airline ended with no agreement.
The Air Line Pilots Association said it was “still at odds” with WestJet, and wants to avoid a strike but was preparing for “all outcomes”.
WestJet chief executive Ed Sims said in a statement “A strike authorisation vote is a common step by unions in context of the overall labour negotiation process. We remain focused on successfully negotiating an agreement that will benefit our pilots and WestJet.”
A 60-day federal conciliation period ends on Friday, and marks the beginning of a statutory 21-day cooling-off period, after which the pilots are permitted to strike.
ALPA said the pilots aim to avoid a strike, but the union has taken action “to ensure they are prepared for any eventuality”, by making the decision to call for a strike authorisation ballot.
The voting period ends after 15 days, ALPA said.
“Our bargaining proposals are reasonable and consistent with the contracts that other pilots within North America enjoy,” WestJet ALPA MEC chairman Rob McFadyen said.
“Unfortunately, our management team believes there is no issue with outsourcing our work and our careers. They expect us to just stand in place, be grateful to work for the company we helped build, and be willing to accept terms that are substandard compared to our peers,” he added.
“Our goal remains to reach a fair contract that also brings stability to the airline.”
McFadyen said that during the three week cooling-off period, the union is still open to negotiation, and pilots “hope to avoid taking job action, which could include a strike.”