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WestJet strike notice withdrawn as union, airline resume talks

A strike notice from WestJet’s unionized mechanics has been rescinded as the union representing the workers and the airline are returning to the bargaining table.

WestJet said in a statement late on Wednesday that it had appeared before the Canadian Industrial Relations Board to discuss the airline’s request for arbitration, in the negotiations with the Aircraft Maintenance Engineers and Tech Ops employees.

“The CIRB has advised it will require additional time and submissions from both parties before making a decision on whether or not collective bargaining for our first agreement should be resolved by way of arbitration,” the Calgary-based airline said.

“In the meantime, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association has rescinded its strike notice, with both parties jointly agreeing to return to the bargaining table to continue work towards finding a resolution,” it added.

Click to play video: 'WestJet mechanics’ union threatens more grounded flights without deal'

WestJet mechanics’ union threatens more grounded flights without deal

On Monday, WestJet mechanics gave a 72-hour strike notice and said they were ready to walk off the job as early as Thursday night.

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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.

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Union members voted overwhelmingly to reject a tentative deal last week and voiced opposition to the airline’s request for arbitration.

In anticipation of the potential strike action, WestJet cancelled 31 flights scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, impacting roughly 6,500 customers.

The airline says it is “making every effort to reaccommodate guests” and “working to resume normal operations as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

“We recognize the impact the initial cancellations had on our guests and our people, and we sincerely appreciate their patience and understanding during this time,” said Diederik Pen, president of WestJet Airlines and Group chief operating officer.

“In returning to the bargaining table, we are committed to finding a resolution to avoid further disruption to our operations.”

— with files from The Canadian Press 

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