July 23rd, 2024

WestJet Encore pilots kick off conciliation, starting countdown to possible strike

By The Canadian Press on January 16, 2024.

The union representing pilots with WestJet's regional subsidiary have started the clock on potential job action — though any moves on that front are still at least three months off. A WestJet Encore Bombardier Q400 twin-engined turboprop aircraft is prepared for a flight in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June 3, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY – The union representing pilots with WestJet’s regional subsidiary have started the clock on potential job action – though any moves on that front are still at least three months off.

The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents more than 300 WestJet Encore aviators, says it has kicked off the conciliation process by filing for help with the federal mediation service.

The request leaves the labour minister 15 days to appoint a conciliation officer who will work with both sides toward an agreement – with possible picketing or strikes to follow if a deal fails to materialize after two months of talks.

Carin Kenny, who chairs the union’s WestJet Encore group, says negotiations have come to a “near standstill” as the pilots demand better wages, working conditions and career progression.

In June, 1,800 pilots with WestJet and the now defunct subsidiary Swoop ratified an agreement that granted a 24 per cent pay bump over four years.

Bargaining came down to the wire, with WestJet cancelling more than 230 flights in preparation for job action before a deal was reached hours ahead of the strike deadline in May.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2024.

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