WestJet Encore pilots vote to authorize strike mandate

WestJet Encore pilots have voted to authorize a strike mandate.

The vote comes a week into the 21-day cooling off period after federal conciliation between the pilots and the company wrapped up.

Represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), 89 per cent of WestJet Encore pilots took part in the strike authorization vote, with 97% of those voting in favour of a strike if required.

A strike could happen as soon as April 17 if the pilots and WestJet are unable to negotiate a new collective agreement.

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

WestJet responds

Diederik Pen, President of WestJet Airlines and Group Chief Operating Officer, said in a statement 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.”

Pen continued: “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.”

Committed to bargaining process

ALPA indicated that it remains committed to the bargaining process, and will make the union’s negotiators available 24/7 during the remainder of the 21-day cooling-off period.