OTTAWA – Unions representing 40,000 airline workers are calling for an emergency task force to develop a coherent airline policy for Canada.
In a meeting last evening with Transport Minister David Collenette, union leaders criticized the government’s handling of airline policy and demanded a task force be created to report on solutions within 90 days.
“There’s an incredible sense of outrage and urgency on the part of the public that the government doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing about our airline industry,” said Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents 11,500 flight attendants across the country. “This government urgently needs a plan to ensure a viable airline industry. They can’t afford to develop policy on the fly, while the industry slips from bad to worse.”
The unions presented a number of recommendations to the minister that would restore stability to the airline industry, boost the confidence of the travelling public and shield airline workers from the boom-and-bust cycle that has left many of them on the street.
“We need a made-in-Canada airline policy that supports employment and gives the travelling public confidence that when they book a ticket, they’ll get good, safe service at a fair price,” said Don MacLean of the International Association of Machinists that represents 15,000 mechanics and baggage handlers. “At this point, we don’t have a policy – and the practice has been a disaster.”
The unions have been deeply disturbed at the slow response of the government to the deepening crisis in the industry.
“To restore stability to the industry, we need clear rules and smart regulation,” said Hemi Mitic of the Canadian Auto Workers, which represents 10,000 ticket agents and ground crew. “Musing about cutting off service to small communities or opening up the skies to foreign carriers is no substitute for a coherent plan of action.”
Representatives for two unions representing pilots were also at the meeting. Doug Walsh from the Air Line Pilots Association and Neil Sharp from the Royal Aviation Pilots Association stressed that the entry of foreign airlines staffed with foreign crew makes no sense when we have Canadian planes and crew idle.
The minister indicated that he was open to considering the union proposal and would respond in the coming days.
For further information contact:
Andrea Addario, CUPE Communications
Frano0069s Bellemare, President Airline Division of CUPE
For the IAMAW:
Frank Saptel (416) 386-1789
For the CAW:
Hemi Mitic (416) 565-3677
Sean Smith (905) 601-1333