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Thursday,  June 13, 2024 3:21 AM 

WestJet Encore pilots vote in favour of strike, possible disruption could hit April 17

  • Air
  •   04-02-2024  1:35 pm
  •   Pax Global Media

WestJet Encore pilots vote in favour of strike, possible disruption could hit April 17
(WestJet)
Pax Global Media

This article was updated on Tuesday, April 2 at 5:43 p.m. EST.



Pilots at WestJet Encore on Tuesday (April 2) voted to authorize a strike, according to a news release shared by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents the group.

Of the 89 percent of pilots who took part in a strike-authorization vote, 97 per cent voted in favour of a strike, if required, the ALPA said.

The announcement comes one week into a 21-day cooling off period. WestJet Encore pilots say they are unified to secure a contract that will bring stability to their careers and the airline.

Should the pilots and WestJet management fail to negotiate a new collective agreement by April 17, 2024, a strike or lockout could disrupt passenger services, the ALPA said.

“Our industry and our company reputation are built on trust and stability,” said Capt. Carin Kenny, chair of the WestJet Encore ALPA Master Executive Council, in a statement. “That’s why our tactic at the negotiating table has been to make commonsense proposals that will provide a path forward for the WestJet Group and its pilots.”

During the past seven months of negotiating, progress was made in the early stages, the ALPA says.

However, momentum came to a near standstill once talks shifted to larger, more significant sections of the contract, including pay and career progression within the WestJet Group.

Currently, WestJet Encore pilots are some of the lowest-paid regional pilots in Canada, the ALPA says.

“Without drastic improvement on our next contract, there will be little stopping WestJet Encore pilots from continuing to seek better employment opportunities elsewhere. That’s why we are looking for an industry-standard contract comparable to some of our regional colleagues across Canada,” Capt. Kenny stated. “We are here to fight for a contract that will once again make working within the WestJet Group a career goal. Unfortunately, despite management’s platitudes, our proposals continue to fall on deaf ears.”

The ALPA said it remains committed to the bargaining process, making the union’s negotiators available 24/7 during the remainder of 21-day cooling-off period.

Should management continue to stall negotiations, WestJet Encore pilots will file a 72-hour strike notice on April 14, with the possibility of being in a legal strike position on April 17, the ALPA said.

WestJet responds

Diederik Pen, president of WestJet Airlines and group chief operating officer, issued a statement on Tuesday, saying that a strike authorization vote is "a common step by unions in context of the overall labour negotiation process and does not mean a strike will occur." 

"We are steadfast in our commitment to reach an agreement with ALPA that addresses the unique concerns of our Encore pilots, is competitive within Canada’s airline industry and ensures we have a long-term sustainable future so that we can continue to operate critical air service for millions of Canadians, while providing meaningful employment for thousands at the WestJet Group," Pen said.


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