*Pilots demand better working conditions outside WestJet headquarters as airline holds AGM
By Jill Croteau - Global News
About 150 pilots in uniform all lined up outside WestJet’s headquarters in Calgary on Tuesday morning.
They carried picket signs but weren’t on strike. The WestJet pilots, along with some of their peers from competitor airlines, lined the sidewalk to show management they are serious about encouraging management to negotiate a fair contract.
The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) stated they want fair wages, better working conditions and better job security.
“It’s time to show management this pilot group is not content with substandard wages. We will fight for a contract,” said Capt. Rob McFadyen with the ALPA Master Executive Council.
About 150 pilots in uniform all lined up outside WestJet’s headquarters in Calgary on Tuesday morning to show they are serious about encouraging management to negotiate a fair contract.
Pilots said they’re frustrated the airline is outsourcing their jobs to staff WetJet’s new low-cost carrier, Swoop. The pilots stood outside the headquarters ahead of the WestJet AGM where shareholders gathered.
Late last month, the union representing WestJet pilots announced it was calling a strike vote as an agreement still hasn’t been reached with WestJet management after months of negotiation.
The strike authorization vote ends May 10. The 21-day cooling off period ends May 16.
Captain Dave Colquhoun, union chairman representing Calgary pilots, said there are existing pilot shortages in the industry and they’re concerned about job protection.
“We are looking to make sure our flying is done by our pilots we are very concerned management has taken initiative to outsource our jobs to alter-ego airline and that is ‘Swoop,'” Colquhoun said.
WestJet President and CEO, Ed Sims, said he’s not surprised or disappointed at the pickets. He hopes a strike will be avoided but said plans are in place should job action be a reality.
“I have a visceral reaction to the concept of 70,000 WestJet guests potentially being stranded and 740 flights disrupted,” Sims said. “We have been working for a considerable amount of time on potential contingency plans to minimize potential impact.”