OTTAWA - The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is calling on Federal Minister of Transport Lawrence Cannon to intervene after this week’s announced slashing of 2000 jobs at Air Canada.
Media reports placed blame for the cuts on rising fuel costs - exactly where Air Canada wants it - leaving flight attendants and consumers to wonder whether and how the federal government will intervene to protect workers and jobs.
CUPE wants Cannon to let Canadians know immediately what he intends to do to protect Air Canada workers and service in vulnerable regions.
“The outlook for the industry is serious, but we are suspicious about the emphasis, timing, and intent of this announcement,” says Paul Moist, CUPE national president.
Even airline industry expert Joseph D’Cruz told CBC’s The National this week that “there is no evidence that Air Canada is in serious difficulty.”
CUPE National also supports its Air Canada Component President, Lesley Swann, who is asking Air Canada to let employees use the voluntary separation provisions in their contract. “Air Canada seems to prefer to lay off its lowest paid employees rather than let its highest paid employees leave voluntarily. This is a bizarre business strategy”, added Moist.
Air Canada flight attendants have already demonstrated extraordinarily good faith by making concessions to benefit the company: in 2003, they kept the company in the air by giving up 10% of their wages and a week of their holidays, among other things.
Meanwhile, Robert Milton - president and CEO of ACE Aviation Holdings (Air Canada’s parent company) - was paid $43 million dollars in 2007. Montie Brewer, president and CEO of Air Canada, got $8 million. “If times are so tough for Air Canada, why do Milton and Brewer make such exorbitant salaries?” asks Moist.
CUPE represents more than 570,000 members across Canada, including 7,000 Air Canada flight attendants based in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax.
For information :
Sébastien Goulet, CUPE Communications representative, 613.808.0675
Pam Kapoor, CUPE Communications representative, 613.853.8089