Pilots with WestJet have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action if a new collective agreement cannot be reached before the end of the Victoria Day long weekend.
The pilots, who are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), voted 91% in favour of a strike mandate that puts them in a legal strike position as of May 19. However, ALPA has agreed to hold off on a strike until after the May long weekend as the collective bargaining continues to ensure travel plans are not affected.
“It’s clear WestJet pilots are ready to stand up for the fair contract we deserve—one that puts us in line with our peers across the industry,” Captain Rob McFadyen, chairman of WestJet’s ALPA Master Executive Council, in a news release. “Our pilots have built this airline, and now it is time for our efforts to be properly recognized in terms of industry-standard compensation and working conditions, and real job security that prevents management from outsourcing our jobs.”
The association said bargaining issues with WestJet continue to be compensation, working conditions, and job security.
“The goal is—and always has been—to secure a fair collective agreement that brings stability to the airline, and not to strike,” said McFadyen. “The strong results of our strike vote and the excellent turnout at our informational picketing event earlier this week should provide management the added incentive it needs to bring serious proposals to the bargaining table that address our concerns.”
Contract negotiations are scheduled to continue in Halifax next week.
ALPA represents more than 60,000 pilots at 34 airlines in the United States and Canada, including around 1,500 WestJet pilots and 500 WestJet Encore pilots.