Support rallies - Monday, July 28
OTTAWA – Air Canada flight attendants are pushing back against the airline’s plans to close flight attendant bases and terminate hundreds of jobs. On Monday, July 28, rallies will be held simultaneously at Air Canada bases across the country. Politicians and labour leaders will speak out to stop the closures and keep jobs in their cities.
According to the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents the flight attendants, the cuts and closures will have a devastating impact on passengers, employees and their families, and ultimately everyone in the communities being served.
On July 10, 2008, Air Canada management notified flight attendants in Halifax and Winnipeg that they are “surplus” and will be laid off in November. Overall, 630 flight attendants could lose their jobs.
In response, CUPE has launched a national campaign pushing Air Canada to reconsider the cuts and closures.
“These drastic measures don’t make sense. There’s no justification for the closures, and cutting attendants is only going to reduce the company’s capacity to provide passengers with quality services,” says Lesley Swann, president of CUPE’s Air Canada Component representing 7,200 flight attendants.
Support rallies will take place on Monday across the country in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver.
Lesley Swann, President of CUPE Air Canada Component – 416-809-2577; Daniela Scarpelli, CUPE National Representative – 416-458-0588; Dennis Lewycky, CUPE Communications – 204-942-0343 or 204-333-5065
Air Canada Base Closures and Flight Attendant Layoffs
- Air Canada plans to lay off 630 flight attendants and close attendant bases in Winnipeg and Halifax, leaving bases in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal. The layoffs would affect about 144 CUPE flight attendants in Winnipeg and another 187 in Halifax, plus 300 in Vancouver.
- Air Canada has requested a waiver from the requirements of the Canada Labour Code - sections 214 to 226, Division IX, Part III. These provisions allow for worker to address their concerns when there are major layoffs proposed by an employer. Federal Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn has notified the parties involved that he will investigate this request and will rule on it by July 30. The union has argued that there is no justification for the exemption.
- Politicians have been asked to write to Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Lawrence Cannon to intervene on behalf of the Air Canada employees. Already letters have gone from a number of MPs and hundreds of emails have been sent from the public.
- The union has requested a ‘base viability study’ that Air Canada conducted, prompting their decision to close the two attendant bases. The company claims the attendant bases are no longer needed by the airline. The airline has refused to release the results of this study.
- The airline was fully privatized in 1989. In 2000, Air Canada acquired Canadian Airlines International. The largest private sector owner of the airline is ACE Aerospace Holdings of Toronto.
- Incidentally, last year, Robert Milton, Chairman of Air Canada earned a $1.2 million salary, a $3.9 million bonus and $11.2 million in stock option gains from ACE. He posted $23.1 million in option gains since ACE was created in October of 2004, after Air Canada exited bankruptcy protection.
- During three rounds of court-ordered bargaining in 2003 and 2004 when Air Canada was in bankruptcy protection, flight attendants took a 13.5% wage rate cut, among other concessions, to deal with the financial crisis in the airline.