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TORONTO - Flight attendants represented by the Air Canada component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are reeling over today’s announcement of massive layoffs by their employer.

Air Canada is demonstrating bad faith by limiting the number of workers who will be able to benefit from early retirement, by doling out astronomic wages to top executives, and by leaving employees to hear about the cuts from the media.

“All totaled, Robert Milton - president and CEO of ACE Aviation Holdings (Air Canada’s parent company) - was paid $43 million dollars in 2007, while Montie Brewer, president and CEO of Air Canada, got $8 million. That’s a lot of money to ask flight attendants to cover through massive job losses,” says Lesley Swann, president of CUPE’s Air Canada component.

Paradoxically, Air Canada is currently in arbitration with its flight attendants over the matter of retirement schemes considered too restrictive at a time when jobs are being slashed. “Surely Air Canada is the only large North American air carrier to be inhibiting retirements in this way. It’s ludicrous - instead of allowing senior employees at the top of the pay scale to retire, the company wants to push out younger and lower-salaried workers,” says Swann. “Of 2000 layoffs, only 100 will be management positions,” notes Swann, “Once again, we suffer the brunt of ‘sustaining profitability’, just like we did through critical concessions in 2003 and 2004.”

CUPE’s Air Canada component is equally disappointed to have not been informed enough in advance of this layoff plan. Asks Swann: “When is Air Canada going to show the respect due the very workers whose efforts keep the company afloat?”

CUPE represents more than 570,000 members across Canada, including 7,000 Air Canada flight attendants based in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax.

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For information: Humberto da Silva, CUPE Air Canada Component, 416.839.9550 Sébastien Goulet, CUPE Communications representative, 613.808.0675