OTTAWA As Air Canadas board meets to decide the future of the countrys flagship carrier, Canadas largest union is condemning the federal government for abandoning the airline industry.
At a time when SARS has cut air travel drastically, the federal government continues to duck its responsibility to stabilize the industry, says Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. There seems to be federal money for all sorts of pet projects but despite the extraordinary threat the SARS outbreak presents to the airline industry and despite the billions in aid that has been offered to American carriers in recent months, from the Chrt0069en government we get nothing.
For months now, CUPE has been pressuring the federal government to accept its share of responsibility for the shambles at Air Canada and the tough times facing most other Canadian carriers. The union has called for bridge funding, reduced passenger and airport fees, action to ensure fair competition and protection for workers pensions and unemployment benefits.
The prime minister is crowing about the strength of the Canadian economy. But when thousands of flight attendants are losing their jobs, I dont think theres anything to celebrate, said Darcy. The federal government has washed its hands of this mess yet its airline policy is responsible for the current chaos and much of the pain our members are suffering today.
CUPEs Air Canada Component, which represents 8,300 flight attendants, reached a tentative deal with the cash-strapped airline this week that could see hundreds of flight attendants lose their jobs.
We intend to keep up the pressure for support to the industry and for federal funding from the Employment Insurance surplus to help flight attendants who may lose their jobs, said Darcy. Flight attendants are on the front line, ensuring the safety and security of air passengers. We are going to do everything in our power to defend their best interests, knowing were also fighting to protect public safety.
For further information, visit cupe.ca or contact:
Anne McGrath, National Presidents Office, (613) 237-1590 ext 224, (613) 294-9326 (cell)