Flair Airlines flight attendants given notice to strike on Monday
Executives at the low-cost Flair Airlines have been handed a strike notice by the union that represents their flight attendants, a move that could threaten many people’s Christmas travel plans.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees say that a change in wages is to blame for the serious job action that is scheduled to come into effect on Monday.
The company says in a statement that it historically paid their flight attendants 30 percent more than their competitors, but could no longer afford to offer the premium.
Going forward, all new flight attendants employed by Flair will be offered the same wage as their competitors.
CUPE says that they have been discussing the issues with Flair for some time and have recently reached an impasse in talks.
“We served them a 72-hour strike notice last night,” said Gary Yee, a national representative of CUPE.
He says the union disagrees with the two-tier wage system being imposed on their members and says that the $10 per hour gap will drive a wedge between the two groups.
“We have tried to move things off to arbitration but the company is not prepared to go there. They are kind of restricting us in terms around parameters of conditions of the memorandum. We want a fair arbitration process.”
Passengers in Calgary say they are concerned about what could happen with the service, but don’t believe that it will take very long to resolve.
Liberty Aquino, originally from Winnipeg, says that she had a really good experience flying for the first time with Flair. She says that she feels sorry for the workers and passengers that could be affected.
“Hopefully everything is going to go smoothly and they’ll get a deal with their employees.”
Ash Sharma says the main reason he chose Flair was because of the low prices. He is concerned about how any sort of job action will affect people who travel a lot more than he does.
“People have lots of things to do, meetings, appointments, so it matters. It’s Christmas, so it’s going to be busy.”
Flair Airlines adds that ever since CUPE called for the strike, they have heard from a number of their flight attendants who disagree with the move and indicate that they will cross the picket lines if it comes to that.
“Many contacted management to indicate that they will work during any labour action called by the union,” the statement read. “The support we have received suggests all flights will operate normally on Monday.”
CUPE says that there are no plans to block any flights from taking place, but cautions that passengers will see a delay in service.
“There’s going to be a slowdown of service, even service on board planes. Rest assured, passenger safety will be of utmost importance, there won’t be any impact on passenger safety, just the on-board service,” Yee said.
The company still suggests that all passengers confirm their flight status on their website before heading to the airport.
The discount carrier flies out of Vancouver, Abbotsford, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto.
(With files from Jaclyn Brown)