WestJet’s AMEs strike after CIRB ruling, Labour minister looks at next steps

WestJet’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (AMEs) — represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) — began strike action last night (June 28, 2024 at 7:30 pm ET) after the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) ruled that Labour Minister Seamus O’Reagan’s referral of WestJet’s and AMFA’s negotiations for a first collective agreement to binding arbitration “does not have the effect of suspending the right to strike or lockout.”

[CLICK HERE to see CIRB’s letter to WestJet and AMFA]

This afternoon, in an updated statement on X, formerly Twitter, Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Reagan said: “I have reviewed the decision of the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) in response to my direction that the dispute between WestJet and AMFA be referred to first contract arbitration. The board is independent of the government and I respect its authority. I will be meeting with the parties later today to discuss this matter.”

[See the Minister’s update] 

Earlier today, (June 29, 2024), Minister O’Reagan posted: “The Canada Industrial Relations Board has issued an order referring the WestJet-AMFA dispute to binding arbitration for a first collective agreement under Section 80 of the Canada Labour Code.”

And his post continued: “I am reviewing the Board’s decision, which is clearly inconsistent with my direction to the Board. I will be looking at additional steps to protect the interests of the employer, the union and all Canadians travelling over this national holiday weekend.”

[See O’Reagan’s tweet]

In a statement, Diederik Pen, president of WestJet Airlines and Group Chief Operating Officer, said: “”The government has officially stepped in to provide binding arbitration and ensure we get to a resolution; the only reason for this union to continue with a strike action is to create damage, disrupt the travel plans of thousands of Canadians over the July long weekend and to inflict significant costs on our business.”

Pen continued: “Given arbitration has been ordered, a strike has no leverage on the arbitration’s outcome, so it is pure retaliation of a disappointed union. We are extremely outraged at these actions and will hold AMFA 100% accountable for the unnecessary stress and costs incurred as a result.”

In its statement, WestJet said that it is actively and aggressively pursuing every avenue to minimize disruption, including asking for immediate intervention by the Minister of Labour and the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB).

But as a result of the strike, WestJet has implemented “significant” flight cancellations for June 29.

WestJet has now announced a further 235 flight cancellations following the initial 150 flight cancellations that will impact approximately 20,000 guests with limited re-accommodation options available. Additional cancellations are anticipated if the strike is not called off or intervention does not happen immediately. WestJet had more than 250,000 guests scheduled to fly across the long weekend.

Said Pen: “A strike serves no one, as this negotiation has already been referred to binding arbitration. We know how painful this is for our guests and our people; however, we must start the immediate and safe parking or our aircraft.”

Beginning today (June 29), WestJet will begin parking aircraft in stations across Canada with the intention of operating a significantly reduced schedule by end of day.

Total cancellation summary

Thursday, June 27 – Friday, June 28, 2024

  • ~25 cancellations
  • ~3,300 guests impacted

Friday, June 28

  • ~150 cancellations
  • ~20,000 guests impacted

Saturday, June 29

  • ~235 cancellations
  • ~33,000 guests impacted

For further context on the evolving situation, please review WestJet’s Fact Page on

For more, go to

For more on AMFA, click here.