WestJet Contact Centre and the risk of WNS

Recently, Onex WestJet advised Contact Centre workers of further outsourcing. WNS will start to do some aspects of agents' jobs. This trajectory of further outsourcing by Onex WestJet is concerning for all employees who are not unionized.

Private equity and you

Onex is one of Canada's largest private equity (PE) firms with assets of $51 billion (US) and revenues of $32 billion (US) in 2018.

PE firms typically buy companies and sell them for significant profit within 5-7 years. Onex itself says its investment strategy includes “cost reduction and operational restructurings.” In other words, layoffs, downsizing and re-hiring at lower pay.

Things once thought vital to the business might not be so important to the analytical eye - like a company culture focused on family and employee loyalty.

WNS is a leading company specializing in helping airlines contact centre’s outsource work. They aim to move call centres away from the services model that supports customers towards a model that maximizes profits.

While this announcement by Onex WestJet has been framed that WNS will only help assist contact centre employees by helping ease the burden by processing refunds allowing agents to focus on regular guest support.

Let’s not forget it was just two years ago that Onex slashed call centre jobs with closures at the beginning of the pandemic. It was also around the same time Collen and Brandt met with Cliff Ruden from Teleperformance to discuss moving the contact centre operations to the Philippines.

Read the full letter here

The best protection for non-union WestJetters and Contact Centre workers have to secure their future is joining the union. Contact centre jobs don’t always need to face lower wages and outsourcing.

Unifor members at Aeroplan call centres ratified a new collective agreement just over two years ago while WestJet was talking to Teleperformance to discuss moving the contact centre operations. The Unifor deal ended two-tier wages, included generous signing bonuses, secured work for members as the loyalty program goes through a period of transition and stronger part-time vacation language.

Under the previous contract, workers hired after 2016 were paid less. Those members will see what amounts to an approximate 60 percent increase in compensation over the course of the collective agreement as two-tier wages are removed. By 2024, the top salary will be $30.56 an hour.

Unifor Local 2002 represents 400 Aeroplan workers in British Columbia and Quebec and 5,600 members who work as Customer Sales and Service Agents, Customer Relations Representatives, and Crew Schedulers across Canada.

The best protection Contact Centre workers have to secure their future is joining the union. Contact centre jobs don’t always need to face lower wages and outsourcing.

Unifor represents almost 700 WestJet employees in Calgary and Vancouver with active organizing campaigns with other WestJetters seeking strong representation as members of Unifor.

If you haven’t talked to your coworkers at YYZ, YEG or the Contact Centre, let them know they can sign a Unifor Membership card today. It is time for them to join you at the bargaining table; they can do this at join.unifor.org/WestJet

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