June 2, 2023

As World Information has discovered, WestJet is telling its pilots it is providing a “important” pay elevate that may make them one of many highest paid employees in Canada earlier than the pilots’ union points discover of a strike that would begin this week.

However the union says the “chosen” six-figure salaries indicated in inner messages don’t replicate the total scope of the provide they rejected and have criticized the airline for public tendering.

World Information acquired a memo despatched to pilots by John Aaron, WestJet’s vp of flight operations, hours after the Air Line Pilots Affiliation (ALPA) issued a 72-hour strike discover Monday night time.

WestJet pilots are on account of go away work at 3 a.m. ET on Friday until an settlement is reached.

In a memo, Aaron mentioned the airline’s newest provide, which expired after the strike discover was posted, would elevate pay “to about” $300,000 for a narrow-body captain and $350,000 for a wide-body captain, excluding extra time and different funds.

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Aaron mentioned that such wages would make narrow-body captains and senior officers the very best paid in Canada.

Slim-body plane are the extra widespread passenger plane, such because the Boeing 737, which have a single aisle that separates the passenger seats. The present WestJet fleet consists primarily of narrow-body plane.

“Throughout the time period of the settlement, our proposal was to result in larger wage charges, will increase throughout the board, and redesigned key compensation constructions to dramatically improve wages at each paycheck,” he wrote.

However Tim Perry, ALPA’s nationwide president, mentioned in an interview with World Information that the numbers do not replicate how a lot all WestJet pilots will earn, including that there’s a “wide selection” in each pilot salaries and what the airline presents.

“We have now members who’re senior officers and captains of all ranges of seniority who fly all forms of plane,” he mentioned. And (the memo) actually does not paint an image of all of the contributors we’re making an attempt to signify right here.

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“We signify all members, not only a couple.”

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Perry didn’t say what the present wage vary for WestJet pilots beneath the outdated collective bargaining settlement was, nor did he give an thought of ​​what salaries have been supplied to different pilots beneath the airline’s newest provide. He mentioned the union would proceed to barter on the negotiating desk regardless of Aaron’s memo changing into public.

However he disagreed with Aaron’s declare that the airline’s provide contained a “important” pay improve, even in comparison with the present top-tier wage.

In his memo, Aaron added that the airline’s proposal additionally “considers enhancements to content material provisions that present job safety and schedule enhancements.”

“Each wage and dealing circumstances value the corporate dearly,” he wrote.

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Perry disagreed that the proposal adequately answered the union’s issues about job safety and work schedules. He added that the airline’s negotiating crew “diverted” cash from different components of the collective bargaining settlement to “bolster” their wage proposals, which might solely harm the pilots.

“Context issues,” he mentioned. “Robbing Peter to pay Paul, and transferring cash from one a part of the settlement to the opposite … from our standpoint, that is an unfair discount.”

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The numbers within the memo haven’t been launched in any of WestJet’s public statements so far about ongoing negotiations with ALPA, which represents about 1,600 crew members for WestJet and sister flight Swoop.

The wage supplied is effectively above the typical annual wage in Canada, which was simply over $61,000 in 2022, in line with Statistics Canada.

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Requested how he would react to Canadians who may disagree with the numbers in Aaron’s memo, Perry mentioned he understood, however famous that only a few ALPA members have been keen to take dwelling such paychecks. He added that many pilots do not make ends meet on their present wages.

“Our pilots most need to come to work on Friday,” Perry mentioned. “However they need to do it on a good contract.”

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WestJet pilots threaten to strike

The airline issued a lockout discover shortly after the union strike was introduced and warned that the strike may end in flight delays and cancellations till it was resolved.

Preparations have begun for a diminished schedule with fewer Westjet and Swoop flights, in addition to offering “versatile change and cancellation choices for individuals who want to take different preparations,” WestJet mentioned Monday night time.

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Aaron, who as vp of flight operations is named WestJet’s “chief pilot,” apologized to pilots in a memo for the stress related to doable actions on the job.

“As I mentioned throughout my basic pilot name, I used to be in your sneakers and I perceive the stress of the state of affairs and I’m actually sorry,” he wrote.

“I nonetheless imagine that we are able to come to an settlement together with your affiliation for important enhancements within the Canadian market. I provide you with my phrase that we stay dedicated to persevering with negotiations to succeed in a good settlement with you, our valued pilots.”

— With recordsdata from David Akin.

© 2023 World Information, a division of Corus Leisure Inc.

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