More airports jobs are at risk as WestJet announces that they will start operating its Ultra Low Cost Carrier (ULCC) Swoop airlines from Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) starting on October 25, 2020. The plan according to WestJet insiders will see them starting with up to six departures per day growing to 10 daily departures on peak days, depending on business results.
It is clear from their statement to employees that if increased demand is required they will continue to increase daily flights and expand markets across Canada. They will fly to a mix of domestic, transborder and sun destinations. Toronto Pearson is Canada’s largest air travel market and as Canadians start to travel, WestJet is hoping to build its low cost carrier network.
For WestJet workers this is more devastating news, this will add to the already announced reduction of thousands of jobs being outsourced across the country.
As Swoop continues to build a strong presence in the Canadian airline transportation sector it will threaten good CSA, GSA and BSA jobs at WestJet and WestJet Encore. The increase of Swoop flights will allow WestJet to offset wage costs onto third party ground handling companies while abandoning the workers who helped to build the company.
We know that Swoop outsources these jobs to ground handling companies who bid on tenders to provide the services that WestJetters were already doing. These ground handling companies not only provide less compensation and benefits, they also reduce your opportunity to travel with your flight passes on WestJet routes that Swoop is now covering.
ULCCs are not new to the industry. In fact, we at Unifor watched as Air Canada launched AC Rouge. Air Canada airport agents didn’t need to watch as their “jobs moved down the counter” to lower paid ground handling companies because they had a collective agreement.
The Unifor-Air Canada collective agreement provided language that specifically dealt with the outsourcing of jobs. The result was that although Air Canada has a ULCC, the airport agent role is still being provided by Unifor members working at Air Canada.
As members of Unifor, WestJet airport agents would have the ability to bargain similar language in a collective agreement.
Until more of your co-workers sign Unifor membership cards to help us get to a majority of support required for certification, you will watch more jobs move down the counter as your employer implements any changes as they see fit, with no say about your future or your working conditions.
Bringing in more business is certainly good for the company, but is only good for those working on the frontline if your jobs move down the counter with the flights. That is not the model at Swoop. Only membership in a union and a collective agreement can get you that.
To find out how you can prevent your job moving down the counter without you, or to sign a Unifor card or to help your co-workers sign a card, 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
Simon Lau, Unifor
[email protected] | 778-928-9630
Patrick Murray, Unifor
[email protected] | 506-850-7996
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