WestJet strike averted as tentative agreement reached with Unifor service workers

File: Westjet employees wearing masks wait for passengers at the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

There will be no strike at WestJet this week now that the airline has reached a tentative labour deal with the union representing hundreds of workers at the Calgary and Vancouver airports.

Both the airline and Unifor Local 531 announced the deal on Sunday evening, days before nearly 800 baggage and customer service staff could have walked off the job.

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Unifor announced last week that workers had voted 98 per cent in favour of a strike as early as this Wednesday if a deal could not be reached.

Neither side disclosed specific terms of the tentative deal, which is still subject to ratification.

Click to play video: 'WestJet employees in Calgary, Vancouver could walk off the job if deal isn’t reached with airline'
WestJet employees in Calgary, Vancouver could walk off the job if deal isn’t reached with airline

The union issued a release saying the agreement “brings long overdue wage increases and improvements to working conditions.”

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The deal, touted as the first between the two sides, will be presented to union members later this week.

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Unifor has said wages were a key issue, with current salaries starting at $15.55 an hour and topping out at $23.87 an hour after seven years.

Spokesman Scott Doherty said last week the pay scale has not increased for more than five years, making WestJet’s wages among the lowest in the Canadian aviation industry as inflation soars.

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