Canada’s Unions deliver clear priorities for federal airline relief package

Provided by Canadian Labour Congress/Globe Newswire

OTTAWA, March 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, Canada’s airline unions met with the Minister of Finance and Minister of Transportation to share the concerns of aviation industry workers and to provide solutions to ensuring the sector’s viability. Chief among their priorities is to ensure that any federal financial aid package responds to the needs of workers still on the job as well as the thousands of airline employees recently laid off. Representing 40,000 employees, Canada’s airline unions participating in the meeting included the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Unifor, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) Canada, the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) as well as the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

“A key priority for today’s call was to ensure that front-line aviation employees still working have the appropriate personal protective equipment,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “This includes pre-board screeners, flight crews, and passenger agents who are working to ensure the safety of both employees and the traveling public.”

Union leaders urged the federal government to consider measures similar to those in US Congress where affected airline and airport workers are to be provided top up benefits similar to those in US Congress where 80% of wages are guaranteed. The Unions also proposed that employers extend health benefit plans and ensure pensionable service is accrued under retirement plans. Moreover, they also wanted to ensure that any federal aid allows laid-off employees to return to payroll and maintains employment levels.

Unions also asserted that any government support be accompanied by tight restrictions on executive compensation. This includes bonuses and stock options, share buybacks and dividend payments, as well as debt repayment designed to increase shareholder value.

“Air travel is a vital part of Canada’s transportation network and economy, and the success of any federal financial aid package will require worker supports,” added Yussuff. “Canada’s unions welcome the federal government’s efforts to work with Labour to ensure the airline industry will continue to flourish into the future.”