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WestJet issues 72-hour lockout notice to aircraft maintenance union

WestJet has issued a 72-hour lockout notice to the union that represents its aircraft maintenance engineers, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association.

As a result of the notice, a work stoppage could occur as early as Tuesday at 12 p.m. MT, unless a deal is reached.

“The decision to issue a lockout notice was not one that was made lightly, and we sincerely regret and apologize for the uncertainty this causes for our guests,” said Diederik Pen, CEO and president of WestJet.

“Despite our unwavering commitment to reach a collective agreement, AMFA continues to show up to the bargaining table with unreasonable demands and expectations,” Pen said.

WestJet said issuing a 72-hour lockout notice does not mean travel disruption will occur. However, the company said it would take necessary actions in the coming days to manage the impact of a possible work-stoppage.

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Those measures include reducing flight schedules, proactively managing changes and cancellations, and providing flexible change and cancel options for those wishing to make alternative arrangements.

Click to play video: 'WestJet Encore pilots vote for strike action'

WestJet Encore pilots vote for strike action

“With AMFA publicly issuing a strike vote alert last week and publicly directing guests to fly with other carriers, we can’t allow the unpredictable nature and lack of progress to continue. We are left with no alternative but to issue a lockout notice in an attempt to bring this to a final resolution,” Pen said.

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WestJet has been in labour negotiations with Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association since last September.

Global News has reached to the union for comment; however on Tuesday, the AMFA asked members to vote by email until May 9 to authorize the union to call for a strike. If members vote to strike, their work action could begin any time after May 9.

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In a previous statement, the union had said “wages have been suppressed in Canada for several years” and previous offers of wage increases from Westjet were “not acceptable.”

The company said it presented an offer to AMFA that it said would make its aircraft maintenance engineers the highest paid in Canada. The company said the deal would have a cumulative wage increase of over 20 per cent across the span of the collective agreement. The offer also promised work-life balance and commitments on job security, the company said.

“We sincerely value the work and contributions of our Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, and our proposed agreement reflects this. We are unwaveringly committed to reaching an agreement to prevent travel disruption, however, we are equally prepared to protect the travel plans of our guests and to provide long-term stability and security for all employees at the WestJet Group,” Pen said.

Click to play video: 'WestJet, Air Canada to charge more for checked baggage'

WestJet, Air Canada to charge more for checked baggage

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