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Tuesday,  March 5, 2024 12:23 AM 

Possible Air Transat strike looms as flight attendants approve job action

  • Air
  •   11-27-2023  1:11 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Possible Air Transat strike looms as flight attendants approve job action
(File photo/Pax Global Media)
Pax Global Media

Air Transat’s 2,100 flight attendant members have approved a strike mandate, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) announced on Monday (Nov. 27).

The move was approved during general meetings by a nearly unanimous vote of 99.8 per cent, which CUPE says is the highest tally in the history of its Air Transat Component.

The vote reflects the flight attendants' exceptionally “high level of dissatisfaction with their working conditions,” CUPE said, particularly with wages and purchasing power.

"Over the past 15 years, our members have had to make significant sacrifices during challenging times for the industry. Now, faced with the dizzying rise in the cost of living and the industry's favourable prospects, they are ready to take action. More than 50 per cent of them have been forced to take on a second or even a third job to make ends meet, and their starting salary is only $26,577 per year," stated Dominic Levasseur, president of the Air Transat Component of CUPE, in a press release. 

"Critical" weeks ahead

The next few weeks of negotiations “will be critical,” Levasseur added.

“It is still possible to reach a tentative agreement without resorting to a strike, but that option cannot be excluded,” Levasseur said. “The ball is in the employer's court; they should be aware that our members have high expectations and are extremely motivated.”

The collective agreement for these flight attendants based at airports in Montreal (YUL) and Toronto (YYZ) expired on Oct. 31, 2022.

Negotiations began officially on April 27, 2023. To date, there have been 33 negotiation sessions.

Under the Canada Labour Code, a strike at Air Transat would be legal as of January 3, 2024 – right in the middle of the peak winter travel season. 

And if that happens, “it should be anticipated that all flights will be cancelled,” CUPE said.

The issue of unpaid work is also a subject of the current negotiations. For more on this, click here

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