CanJet Airlines laid off all its flight attendants based in Halifax this week. The 18 flight attendants comprise the entire staff working out of Halifax. The workers also happen to be some of the most senior CanJet staff across the country.
“It’s a huge shock to all of us. It was not something we expected. Not that long ago we were in a meeting with the employer and they had no intentions of making this move,” says laid off flight attendant Mary Fougere who is also the union local’s president. “And it was done in such a cavalier way, with no consideration for workers. Some flight attendants found out from pilots on flights they were working on.”
The cuts also have a major impact on the union’s local which was effectively beheaded. Both the president of the union and the vice-president were served layoff notices.
CanJet is a division of IMP Group Limited, located in Halifax. The company’s behaviour was all the more shocking given that IMP toots its own horn on all correspondence by claiming to be “Nova Scotia’s top employer”.
The union has already filed two grievances following the job cuts. “This is effectively a base closure as defined in the collective agreement and our contract says that in the case of a base closure they have to meet with us in order to mitigate the effects of the layoffs. This was not done. They didn’t even serve layoff notices as per Canada’s Labour Code,” added Fougere.
This is the final blow to flight attendants in Halifax. In 2006, CanJet had let go 137 similar workers. They recalled some and were back up to 44 flight attendants in 2010 when 27 of them were let go. The 18 laid off this week were what remained after the subsequent cuts.
CUPE is Canada’s largest airline union, representing nearly 10,000 flight attendants at both large and smaller air carriers including: Air Canada, Air Transat, CanJet, First Air, Cathay Pacific, CALM Air, Canadian North, Sunwing, and the ground agents at Porter Airlines in Ottawa.