Unpaid work won’t fly. That’s the message that hundreds of CUPE flight attendants and supporters brought to events at airports in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal on Tuesday as part of a National Day of Action against the widespread abuse of unpaid work in the airline industry.
“Our members are tired of working a 10- or 12-hour shift but only getting paid for 6 or 8 hours, while they struggle to pay their bills and their rent,” said Wesley Lesosky, President of CUPE’s Airline Division.
A recent survey showed that flight attendants in Canada perform, on average, 35 hours of unpaid duties every month. Depending on the airline, unpaid duties typically include pre-flight safety checks, the boarding process, deplaning, and ground delays at the gate. Training is usually paid at half the hourly rate. Altogether, flight attendants put in nearly a full work-week without pay every month.
“Today, across Canada, and across so many different airlines, we spoke with one voice and told the airlines and the federal government it’s time to end this unfair, unjust practice,” continued Lesosky. “What’s clear after today is: flight attendants are united, we are determined, and we aren’t going to stop until all of us get the fair pay we’re owed for the time we’ve worked.”
The day of action is part of the Unpaid Work Won’t Fly campaign, launched by CUPE’s Airline Division earlier in April. Already, over 27,000 people have signed on to support the campaign at unpaidworkwontfly.ca.
CUPE’s Airline Division represents approximately 18,500 flight attendants at Air Canada (including Air Canada Rouge), WestJet (including WestJet Encore and Swoop), Air Transat, Sunwing, Calm Air, PAL Airlines, Canadian North, Flair Airlines, Pivot, and PasCan.