Flying Air Transat? What to know about a possible flight attendant strike

Some 2,100 flight attendants at Air Transat have a strike mandate heading into the busy holiday season, according to the union representing the airline’s workers.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) component representing Air Transat employees said the vote for a strike mandate was “nearly unanimous” at 99.8 per cent in favour, “by far the highest tally” in the union group’s history.

Flight attendants are unsatisfied with wages and working conditions at the Montreal-based airline, according to a release from the union, which also highlights unpaid work as an issue. More than half of the workers have had to take on multiple jobs to make ends meet, said Dominic Levasseur, president of CUPE’s Air Transat component.

“Over the past 15 years, our members have had to make significant sacrifices during challenging times for the industry. Now, faced with the dizzying rise in the cost of living and the industry’s favourable prospects, they are ready to take action,” he said in a statement.

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Flight attendants based at the Montreal’s Pierre-Elliott Trudeau Airport and at Pearson in Toronto have been working without a collective agreement since the end of October 2022. CUPE has been in negotiations with the employer since April 27, and the two parties have met more than 30 times.

An Air Transat spokesperson told Global News on Monday morning that the airline and union have been in conciliation since October, and called CUPE’s strike mandate a “normal” part of the process that does not necessarily mean workers will strike.

If the two parties fail to reach an agreement in the coming weeks, a strike would be legal as of Jan. 3, 2024. If a strike came to pass, CUPE said all flights are expected to be cancelled.

But the Air Transat rep said it is “confident” there’s enough time before then to find an agreement with flight attendants.

The airline’s spokesperson called the tone at the bargaining table “cordial and respectful” with discussions “progressing well” on each group’s demands.

“Transat maintains excellent working relations with its employees and CUPE, and intends to make every effort to find an agreement that will satisfy both parties,” the statement read.

A work stoppage from WestJet pilots was narrowly avoided ahead of the May long weekend earlier this year, with some flights cancelled or delays in the lead up to the strike deadline.

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Click to play video: 'Long weekend flights resume as WestJet strike averted'

Long weekend flights resume as WestJet strike averted

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