Unifor has been calling on WestJet Onex and the Internal Associations to provide WestJetters with recall language for all non-union work groups since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This language should have been in place prior to requiring it – and would have been if the internal associations were really meant to protect the needs of workers.
Now, five months later, the long-awaited Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) has been announced by the AEA, giving some WestJet workers Recall Rights of just 36 months. This agreement fails to adequately meet the needs of workers at WestJet who are facing job reductions and uncertainty due to the decrease in demand for travel in the airline sector.
This agreement is a starting point that will provide some certainty for workers at YVR, YYC, YEG and YYZ, but fails to represent the needs of the majority of non-union WestJetters. There is no reason why the employer needs to limit recall rights to just 36 months and no justification for the AEA accepting this cut-off date. The workers who built WestJet into the airline it has become have shown dedication and commitment over the years with unquestioned loyalty. They deserve their jobs when consumer demand returns.
Under Unifor’s Air Canada collective agreement workers have a minimum of five years recall or length of service, whatever is greater. If an employee has worked for Air Canada for seven years they would have seven years’ recall rights. This is the power of a collective agreement.
This MOA fails to negotiate fair severance for workers who participate in the Voluntary Resignation Option, as well as those who are not recalled after 36 months. The MOA states they will provide two days per year of service or a minimum of 5 days as per the minimum requirements of the Canada Labour Code.
In our Unifor Air Canada Collective Agreement, workers facing this same situation would receive two weeks’ severance per year of service up to a maximum of 52 weeks’ severance.
Time and time again, the AEA and CCEA fail at protecting workers. They have not fought back to try to reverse the decision by Onex WestJet to outsource Tier 1 and Tier 2 bases as well as the TAC, GSA and call centre work.
The AEA fails to negotiate better severance terms for the workers who have also been given notice of mass termination. The opportunity and leverage to make change is slipping away as we move closer to the mass termination notice of 16 weeks.
Isn’t it time to take charge of your own future by becoming members of a real union with skilled negotiators before it is too late and you are left with failed agreements that lack fairness for workers but favour all the terms and conditions your new owner Onex wants?
Act now before it's too late, sign a Unifor membership card and talk to your coworkers about the urgency to participate in your future.
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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