The union representing Air Canada flight attendants says a recent bomb threat on a flight - and the fact that the flight attendants weren’t paid for most of the time they spent responding to and managing the ensuing panic - shows just how out-of-hand the abuse of unpaid work is in the airline industry.

An Air Canada flight scheduled to leave Delhi for Toronto was grounded on June 4th after a bomb threat was called in. The crew remained with passengers throughout the ordeal, onboard the aircraft and in a holding area where they were relocated while authorities carried out their inspection.

However, despite being on the clock for over 9.5 hours in a high-alert situation, the crew was only paid for four, because of an outdated airline industry practice of not paying flight attendants for time spent on the ground performing safety-related duties, like pre-flight safety checks, as well as the boarding and deplaning process. CUPE has been highlighting this abusive practice with its Unpaid Work Won’t Fly campaign.

“The day-to-day exploitation of our flight attendants by our multibillion dollar industry is bad enough,” said Wesley Lesosky, President of the Air Canada Component of CUPE, which represents about 10,000 flight attendants at Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge. “But an instance like this, where we are asked to respond to a bomb threat on board an aircraft without pay, is simply beyond the pale and it needs to stop now.”

The union has written to Air Canada requesting that the crew be paid in full for the hours they spent responding.