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WestJet and Air Canada have asked their employees to work for free

WestJet and Air Canada have asked their employees to work for free

In an internal letter obtained by CBC/Radio Canada, Air Canada Vice President of Operations Rich Steer noted that there was a need urgent help.

Our partner airports have come to an end, with a large number of flights canceled and communications lost., he is writing. We specifically need volunteers to come to the airport and provide support today.

The letter was specifically addressed to the executives available for reporting to Toronto Pearson Airport.

Similarly, WestJet sent an email to its employees asking them to come to Calgary Airport. Helping passengers who need wheelchairs .

This is our chance to demonstrate the value of WestJetters and help our colleagues when they need it. Is it written in this internal memo signed by Colin Tainan, Vice President of Airports.

The call was sent out at the end of August to all WestJet employees, including those called back to work afterwards lay them off.

Unhappy unions

Unifor, which represents many categories of employees in the two companies, was deeply upset when it received the internal memos. According to Unifor airline manager Leslie Dias, neither of them had contacted them beforehand to find an arrangement.

We heard about it because of the anger of our members, she explained.

In the case of Air Canada, executives who volunteered performed tasks that would have been performed by employees waiting to return to work. According to Leslie Dias, the company has apologized for the way the resource shortfall was handled.

In an email response, Air Canada claimed it was Targeted short-term response to passenger support due to delays at the border at Pearson Airport .

However, Unifor’s anger is stronger against WestJet. Frankly, this is an insult. They took their job from them and are now asking for volunteersLady Dias, s’insurge.

According to Unifor, the call for volunteers relates to an area taken from union employees to be subcontracted to a French company, Samsic, in November 2020.

The unions of pilots and flight attendants, who were also invited by volunteers, declined our interview requests. But in contacts with their members they are urging them to refuse to work for free.

[WestJet] You are asked to work for free. this is unacceptable.

Quote from:Canadian Federation of Public Officials

In an email response, WestJet raised concerns about hiring employees.

This isn’t unusual in the company’s culture, and many WestJetters, including our management team, CEO, and president, have responded to the call for wheelchair passenger assistance in Calgary when our service provider was struggling to keep up with demand.spokeswoman Morgan Bell said.

complex recovery

Despite its outrage, Unifor understands that the airlines are facing a difficult situation. We can’t shut down an entire sector and hope to restart it in a momentMs. Dias admits.

According to data collected by the Canadian Air Transport Security Agency, the country’s 15 largest airports had an average of more than 80,000 passengers screened at the end of August, three to four times more than the same period the previous year.

WestJet said in its email that it has gone from 30 flights a day at the height of the pandemic to more than 400 currently. The company expects to return to 9,000 employees by the end of the year.

According to US press reports, Delta and American Airlines made similar appeals for volunteers in June.

legal request

Asking to volunteer is not illegal, according to Calgary employment attorney Sarah Coudrey. However, it puts employees in unpleasant situations, especially if those workers have not yet been called back to their old positions, she asserts.

The point is, companies will probably track down who’s offering work for free. If you are seen as a good teammate, will you be called back to work faster than anyone who refuses?Ms. Coderre explains.

She recommends that all employees who find themselves in such a situation clarify these types of questions in writing with the company. Responses to voluntary insurance issues must also be submitted.

With information from Kyle Pax