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Sunday,  May 26, 2024 11:46 PM 

WestJet preparing reduced schedule after issuing lockout notice to tech ops union

WestJet preparing reduced schedule after issuing lockout notice to tech ops union
(Pax Global Media)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The WestJet Group and the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association announced a tentative agreement on Monday, May 6, 2024, averting a work stoppage. This article now contains outdated information. For the latest details, click here.

WestJet is preparing to reduce its flight schedule, and activate a flexible change policy for its customers, after issuing a 72-hour lockout notice on Saturday (May 4) to the union that represents its aircraft maintenance engineers.

As a result of the notice, a work stoppage could occur as early as Tuesday (May 7) 2024, at 12 p.m. MT, unless a deal is reached with the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA).

"The decision to issue a lockout notice was not one that was made lightly, and we sincerely regret and apologize for the uncertainty this causes for our guests and the communities and regions that rely on us. Despite our unwavering commitment to reach a collective agreement, AMFA continues to show up to the bargaining table with unreasonable demands and expectations," said Diederik Pen, president of WestJet Airlines and Group’s chief operating officer, in a statement.

"With AMFA publicly issuing a strike vote alert last week and publicly directing guests to fly with other carriers, we can't allow the unpredictable nature and lack of progress to continue. We are left with no alternative but to issue a lockout notice in an attempt to bring this to a final resolution."

Preparations underway

Issuing a 72-hour lockout notice “does not mean travel disruption will occur,” WestJet confirmed in a press release.

But actions are being taken nonetheless. This includes preparing a reduced schedule, managing changes and cancellations to ensure customers are aware of disruptions in advance, and activating flexible change and cancel options, the airline said. 

The WestJet Group has been in active labour negotiations with AMFA since September 2023.

The company says it has presented an offer to AMFA that would make WestJet aircraft maintenance engineers the highest paid in Canada, with a cumulative wage increase of over 20 per cent across the span of the collective agreement.

The offer would also deliver industry leading work-life balance standards and strong commitments to job security, the airline says.

"We sincerely value the work and contributions of our aircraft maintenance engineers, and our proposed agreement reflects this. We are unwaveringly committed to reaching an agreement to prevent travel disruption, however, we are equally prepared to protect the travel plans of our guests and to provide long-term stability and security for all employees at the WestJet Group," Pen said.

Visit WestJet's Guest Updates page for more information regarding flight status, travel changes and applicable dates for flexible change and cancel options.

This is a developing today. 

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