WestJet pilots have overwhelmingly voted to give their union a strike mandate.
The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) says members voted 91 per cent in favour of strike action.
According to a release from the union, there are still eight days left in the “cooling-off period” and collective bargaining will continue in Halifax next week.
The ALPA says there will be no job action over the May long weekend, and travel will be unaffected, even though pilots will be in a legal position to commence job action on May
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Capt. Rob McFadyen, chairman of WestJet’s ALPA Master Executive Council, said the pilots are asking for a fair agreement that brings “stability to the airline” and that they hope to avoid striking.
“It’s clear WestJet pilots are ready to stand up for the fair contract we deserve—one that puts us in line with our peers across the industry,” McFadyen said.
WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims said officials will remain at the negotiation table to “drive a sustainable agreement” for all involved.
“We respect the outcome of this vote and recognize the mandate WestJet pilots have given ALPA,” Sims said in an emailed statement to Global News. “We are certain our guests will appreciate that this update confirms their travel will be unaffected over the Victoria Day long weekend.”
Sims also promised to refund any WestJet passengers who end up being disrupted if a strike happens.
Calgary travel consultant Kyle Muckian has followed the developments with WestJet pilots and has advised clients to be prepared when making travel plans.
“If you can avoid using WestJet this time around that’s probably best. That avoids any and all issues that may pop up. But if you are going to use WestJet, make sure you have your cancellation insurance ready,” he said.
“If you’re working with an insurance company, they’re going to be aware of these kinds of strikes, they’ll be expecting cancellations, so the process for cancellations would be much smoother.”
The ALPA represents approximately 1,500 WestJet pilots, and 500 WestJet encore pilots.
Air Canada has upped its transcontinental route capacity following the announcement from pilots.
*with files from the Canadian Press