WestJet Airlines pilots vote overwhelmingly in favour of strike action

WestJet pilots lined up in front of the airline's head office on Tuesday

About 95 per cent of WestJet's 1,500 pilots voted.

WestJet pilots, taking a major step closer to a costly showdown with the airline's management, overwhelmingly approved a strike if the two sides fail to agree on a new contract during the last-ditch conciliation process now underway.

"The goal is-and always has been-to secure a fair collective agreement that brings stability to the airline, and not to strike", said McFadyen.

Conciliation-similar to United States mediation-includes 60 days of negotiations and a cooling-off period before a strike can take place.

With the news Thursday that WestJet pilots could be striking in less than two weeks, the Comox Valley Record reached out to a few local businesses that would be impacted by a potential pilot strike by the Calgary-based airline. However, ALPA has agreed to hold off on a strike until after the May long weekend as the collective bargaining continues to ensure travel plans are not affected.

WestJet pilots would like to have the work themselves but the company says that would increase operating costs and make it more hard for Scoop to compete with other discount airlines.

The union says there are large differences between it and the company with regards compensation, working conditions and job security.

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After that, the Association says union leaders are willing to call for strike action to begin.

Prior to May 19, negotiators will head to Halifax to continue discussions.

Canadians may have to rethink their upcoming travel plans, as WestJet Airlines faces a massive strike.

In response to the strike vote mandate, Air Canada announced it is adding capacity on key transcontinental routes by up-gauging aircraft on certain flights.

"There has to be an agreement between us and the [WestJet] executive about who is going to be flying those airplanes", said David Colquhoun, a member of the union's negotiating team, during an interview "Right now there is nothing written down that says it is going to be WestJet pilots, but our pilots have overwhelmingly told us they expect to be flying those airplanes". These operate from its primary global hub in Toronto to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax.

"It had to have been 10 years ago", she said of the Air Canada strike.

WestJet issued a statement this afternoon regarding the ALPA strike authorization vote outcome.

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