WestJet Airlines has avoided further flight disruptions thanks to the intervention of a mediator that will assist contract negotiations between the airline and its maintenance workers’ union. 

The Calgary-based carrier said on 27 June that Seamus O’Regan Jr, Canada’s minister of labour, had directed the Canada Industrial Relations Board to help WestJet Group and the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association settle on a new collective agreement. 

”The airline acknowledges the minister’s direction to secure industrial peace, and AMFA has confirmed they will abide by the direction,” WestJet says. ”Given this, a strike or lockout will not occur and the airline will no longer proceed in cancelling flights.” 

WJ115_21Jan2021_first Max reveune flight in Canada following grounding

Source: WestJet

WestJet has avoided a large-scale network disruption as a maintenance workers’ strike is no longer imminent 

The carrier cancelled 25 flights on 27-28 June ahead of the union’s threatened strike action, which was due to begin as soon as 28 June. WestJet warned that some 250,000 air travellers would have experienced travel disruptions if the strike lasted through the long weekend. 

But now it appears that a large-scale network disruption ahead of the busy air travel weekend has been avoided, as WestJet says it is ramping up operations “as quickly and efficiently as possible”.

“With the government’s actions, the summer travel plans of Canadians have been protected and we have a path to resolution,” says Diederik Pen, WestJet’s chief operating officer. “We recognise the significant impact the initial cancellations continue to have on our guests and our people, and we sincerely appreciate their patience and understanding as we resume operations.” 

The union is seeking a contract with enhanced compensation, benefits and quality of life measures. It recently submitted a 72h strike notice ”in the hope that it will prompt WestJet to provide its employees with a good faith offer”, AMFA says. 

The union was poised to strike on 20 June, which prompted WestJet to start cancelling flights avoid stranding passengers, crew and aircraft in remote locations. The two sides agreed to return to the negotiating table, but those talks quickly fell apart

WestJet asserts that its most recent contract offer would have made its maintenance workers the highest paid in Canada.