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WestJet mechanics hit airline with 72-hour strike notice

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WestJet mechanics say they are poised to walk off the job early as Thursday night after serving the airline with a 72-hour strike notice yesterday.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, which represents some 670 aircraft maintenance engineers and other skilled-trade positions at the carrier, says it made the decision after WestJet cut off talks this week.

On Monday, WestJet asked the federal labour minister to refer negotiations to the Canada Industrial Relations Board, which would then arbitrate the terms of a collective agreement.

WestJet president Diederik Pen says arbitration would allow an unbiased third party to lay out a reasonable deal, and would also bar a work stoppage in the meantime.

The union, whose members voted overwhelmingly to reject a tentative agreement last week, opposes the move, saying it would undermine their goal of an "industry-changing contract."

The airline says the strike notice "does not mean travel disruption will occur," though it remains unclear how flights could be affected by the sudden absence of hundreds of mechanics.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2024.

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