As part of a “Mayday” campaign, the union representing 15,000 Canadian flight attendants is launching billboards in key locations in Ottawa and the home ridings of key federal ministers, as well as an email drive that has already sent close to 6,000 messages to Prime Minister Trudeau’s inbox.
“The government called on us to help bring Canadians home when COVID-19 first struck, but they have ignored us at every turn ever since,” said Wesley Lesosky, President of the Airline Division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). “We’re bringing this campaign to the prime minister’s doorstep because we’re tired of being ignored, and we’re tired of being used as a political football by the airlines and the government.”
Canada remains the only country in the G7 without a plan to support its airline industry through the pandemic. Despite rumours and promise of an aid package dating back to April 2020, nothing has been announced and the industry continues to shed jobs every week.
“Workers in this sector are worried there won’t be an industry to come back to once the pandemic is over if the government doesn’t act,” continued Lesosky. “Every day that passes without an aid package represents more and more jobs lost. We can’t leave our economic recovery in the hands of foreign airlines.”
Billboards have been purchased for the campaign near the riding offices of Prime Minister Trudeau, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, and nearby Ottawa airport where MPs continue to fly in and out for their parliamentary duties.
Roughly ninety per cent of CUPE’s airline members are currently laid off, waiting and hoping for a recall to work. Since spring 2020, the union has been calling for a worker-focused aid package for the industry which focuses on protecting jobs.