Potential strike avoided as WestJet and WestJet pilots agree to mediation

The airline and the union representing the airline’s pilots have agreed to mediation and, if required, binding arbitration.

“Tonight, WestJet and ALPA’s master executive council reached an agreement on the negotiating process,” said WestJet CEO Ed Sims. “We will continue negotiations, we will move into arbitration after a matter of weeks, but I think the most important news for tonight is that the threat of strike action has been removed for WestJet guests.”

According to WestJet, the airline and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) agreed to a settlement on Friday through the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

“WestJet guests can now continue to book and travel in absolute confidence around their trip and for me that is the most important message that we can send both the country and the 70,000 travellers who travel with WestJet every single year.”

The progress in negotiations comes 15 days after 91 per cent of WestJet pilots voted in favour of striking.At that time, ALPA said the two sides were divided on compensation, working conditions and job security. Despite the strike vote, at no time did the union serve the mandatory 72 hour notice of job action. The pilots were legally able to strike as of May 19 but the union committed to not disrupting travel during the May long weekend.

“The WestJet pilots’ intention was never to strike. We were under an imminent threat of a lockout at that position we were in at that time,” said Captain Rob McFadyen, master executive council chairman for the WestJet Pilots Association. “Our pilots were very committed to achieving an industry standard contract. More importantly, securing the flying that WestJet pilots have historically done.”

“Today, the solution that we came to in conjunction with WestJet management allowed us not only to secure job security moving forward but to also give us the opportunity to work on some of the issues we’ve had difficulties coming to an agreement on.”

Sims says the impasse in negotiations of recent weeks did have an impact on consumer confidence that resulted in a decline in bookings. “There’s been a significant impact since, in fact, the first call for a mandate for strike action from ALPA’s master executive council. That impact has become more pronounced during the course of the last week.”

“We’d like a settlement reached as soon as possible,” said Sims. “I think, at our most optimistic, we’re probably saying within the next few weeks

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