SunwingCUPE’s Airline Division, which represents 15,000 flight attendants at nine Canadian airlines, says other major carriers like WestJet, Air Transat and Sunwing must follow the example set by Air Canada earlier this week, and pay flight attendants for time spent on the ground during delays at Pearson Airport.

“We were happy to get an agreement this week to ensure an hour worked is an hour paid for our members at Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge,” said Wesley Lesosky, president of CUPE’s Airline Division and also president of CUPE’s Air Canada Component. “This is what can happen when the union and the employer come together: we can find solutions that benefit everybody.”

While policies differ from airline to airline, generally speaking, flight attendants are paid significantly less - or not at all - for their time on the ground. The issue has boiled over in recent months, as understaffing at Canadian airports has led to delays of two to three hours during the security screening and deplaning processes.

“Our members are working just as hard on the ground to keep passengers safe and comfortable as they are in the air, and deserve to be paid-in-full for every minute they’re at work in uniform,” said Rena Kisfalvi, secretary-treasurer of CUPE’s Airline Division and president of CUPE 4055, which represents flight attendants at Sunwing.

CUPE has been raising the issue of flight attendants essentially working for free even as they perform work duties in uniform on the ground.

“Air Canada has stepped up,” said Lesosky. “Now, it’s time for the other carriers to follow suit.”

Photo credit: Mark King, CC-BY-SA 4.0