The WestJet chapter of the Airline Pilots Association initiated a strike authorization vote to the carrier’s pilots, in what most see as an attempt to pressure airline management.
The airline’s pilots’ union and airline management have been at the table for about eight months, and the union claims that the two parties remain far apart on key issues like compensation, job security and work rules.
The vote will close out around May 10; May 19 would be the earliest that pilots could strike following national labor rules.
In a statement, Ed Sims, WestJet president and CEO, downplayed the move, stating that "A strike authorization vote is a common step by unions in context of the overall labor negotiation process. We remain focused on successfully negotiating an agreement that will benefit our pilots and WestJet."
Meanwhile, Air Canada sought to take advantage of the uncertainty by issuing a statement saying the carrier “is ready to adjust its schedules and capacity to limit disruptions for the traveling public and to ensure that customers get to their destinations in the event of a labor disruption at WestJet.”
The carrier further added: “we appreciate that the traveling public may be feeling anxious about their plans resulting from the uncertainty associated with potential labor disruptions at WestJet. With our extensive network and varied fleet, we are well placed to accommodate passengers disrupted by this situation.”