February 21st, 2018

WestJet union files complaint over pilot recruitment for low-cost Swoop airline

By The Canadian Press on February 9, 2018.

The union that represents WestJet and WestJet Encore pilots says it has filed an unfair labour practice complaint over the airline's recruitment of pilots for Swoop, the new ultra-low-cost airline slated to begin flying in June. A pilot taxis a Westjet Boeing 737-700 plane to a gate after arriving at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., on Monday February, 3, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

CALGARY – The union that represents WestJet and WestJet Encore pilots says it has filed an unfair labour practice complaint over the airline’s recruitment of pilots for Swoop, its new ultra-low-cost carrier slated to begin flying in June.

The Air Line Pilots Association, International, says it has applied to the Canada Industrial Relations Board for a “cease and desist” order.

It alleges WestJet Airlines Ltd. violated provisions of the Canada Labour Code by directly negotiating with pilots instead of the union over employment at Swoop, thus changing and ignoring well-established rules and policies. WestJet declined to comment on the labour board filing.

During a conference call on Tuesday, CEO Gregg Saretsky said he wants to allow pilots from WestJet and WestJet Encore to seek promotions to work at the new airline and that WestJet is negotiating with the union to maintain one seniority list for all of its pilots, thus allowing them to move from one brand to another without losing pay and seniority rights.

Swoop is to launch with three aircraft in June and grow to six by September and 10 by the spring of next year, eventually reaching 30 to 40 aircraft on domestic and international flights.

The union says it has also asked the federal labour minister to appoint a conciliation officer to help move along stalled negotiations with WestJet to conclude terms of its first contract. WestJet pilots voted to be represented by ALPA last year.

Companies in this story: (TSX:WJA)

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