WestJet’s new uniform policy is out, and causing a stir at airports across the country.
New uniforms are nothing new in the airline industry, of course. Companies regularly want to update their looks to match new branding and to keep up with fashion trends. Who hasn’t looked back at an old uniform and thought, Did I actually wear that?
So updates are needed, and can be a good thing - as long as the changes are implemented with respect and with reasonable expectations. For many WestJetters this week, however, both have been noticeably absent. It doesn’t have to be this way.
In a unionized workplace, employers meet with the union when a new uniform or dress code is being implemented, and works out a procedure for introducing the new standards. The union is also there to ensure that the new uniforms are not discriminatory, do not inhibit your ability to do your job or present any health and safety risks. Where added cost might be involved, such as when new eye glasses are required, we discuss how that can be achieved without undue hardship to the worker.
Unifor has a great deal of experience dealing with dress codes and uniforms across the country and in many different industries, including airlines. We represent workers in hospitality, public transit, airport security, armoured cars, gaming and several other industries in which workers wear uniforms or have set dress codes. We also represent workers whose jobs require specific safety apparel, such as boots, gloves and safety vests.
In each workplace, Unifor sits down with the employer to work out what the new dress code will be, and how it will be implemented. There is no single, set policy for all workplaces, but the underlying principles are the same: respect for the workers, reasonableness in implementation, no discriminatory standards, no undue hardship or costs to the worker, health and safety, and your ability to do your job in the new uniform. From there, we work out a protocol that makes the most sense for your workplace.
We need only look at CUPE as an example at WestJet. The union is already meeting with the company to discuss the new uniforms and their implementation.
With Unifor as your union, WestJet frontline airport workers will have a voice in the union when new policies – such as a new uniform – are brought in. Without a union, you have no voice, and must simply accept what the company dictates.
If you have any questions or want to sign a Unifor card and gain a voice in your workplace, please contact one of your organizers.
Billy O'Neill, Unifor
[email protected] | 416-605-1443
Ada Zampini, Unifor
[email protected] | 514-701-6227
Bruce Fafard, Unifor
[email protected] | 587-341-0945
Murray Gore, Unifor
[email protected] | 604-671-9141
Patrick Murray, Unifor
[email protected] | 506-850-7996
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