July 12th, 2024

WestJet mechanics go on strike in shock move, upending travel ahead of long weekend

By The Canadian Press on June 28, 2024.

CALGARY – WestJet airplane mechanics are hitting the picket lines in a surprise move that threatens to disrupt flights for thousands of travellers at the outset of the Canada Day long weekend.

WestJet says Canadians can expect “severe travel disruption” if the abrupt strike is not called off – one day after the airline and Ottawa thought they had averted a work stoppage thanks to a ministerial order for binding arbitration on Thursday.

The second-largest airline in the country says it is again asking for immediate intervention by the federal labour minister and the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association says its 680 WestJet workers went on strike at 5:30 p.m. MDT, arguing that the carrier’s “unwillingness to negotiate with the union made the strike inevitable.”

However, WestJet says that because the country’s labour tribunal is undertaking arbitration to resolve the impasse, a strike gives the union no leverage and amounts to “pure retaliation.”

Earlier this month, the mechanics voted to reject a tentative deal with the Calgary-based airline and issued two strike notices while WestJet sought government intervention.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 28, 2024.

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