Air Transat flight attendants give union strike mandate
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has announced that its 2,100 flight attendant members at Air Transat have a strike mandate. It was approved during general meetings by a nearly unanimous vote of 99.8% — by far the highest tally in the history of the Air Transat Component of CUPE.
In a statement announcing the results, CUPE said that the vote reflects the flight attendants’ exceptionally high level of dissatisfaction with their working conditions, particularly with wages and purchasing power. Following a dip during the COVID-19 pandemic, the overall outlook for the industry is once again extremely positive.
Dominic Levasseur, President of the Air Transat Component of CUPE, said that: “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.”
And Levasseur added: “More than 50% 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.”
He continued: “The next few weeks of negotiations will be critical. It is still possible to reach a tentative agreement without resorting to a strike, but that option cannot be excluded. The ball is in the employer’s court; they should be aware that our members have high expectations and are extremely motivated.”
CUPE said that the collective agreement for the flight attendants based at airports in Montreal (YUL) and Toronto (YYZ) expired on Oct. 31, 2022. Negotiations began officially on April 27, 2023.
In its statement, CUPE said that to date, there have been 33 negotiation sessions. Under the Canada Labour Code, a strike relating to this matter would be legal as of Jan. 3, 2024. In the event of a strike, it should be anticipated that all flights will be canceled.
The issue of unpaid work is also a subject of the current negotiations. For more about that, visit https://unpaidworkwontfly.ca
The Air Transat Component is part of CUPE’s Airline Division, which represents more than 18,500 flight attendants employed at Air Transat, Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge, Sunwing, WestJet, Encore, Calm Air, Canadian North, Pivot Airlines, Flair Airlines, PAL and Pascan.