Air Canada to lay off 632
The union representing Air
attendants said its members are bearing a disproportionate burden as Canada's
largest airline announced 632 in-flight workers in Vancouver, Winnipeg and
Halifax will lose their jobs in November as it chops capacity in the face of
soaring fuel costs.
"The numbers are even more than what they announced three weeks ago
and it just seems we are definitely taking the biggest hit of the groups," Nick
Beveridge, vice-president components of the Canadian Union of Public Employees,
said in an interview.
CUPE was informed of the job cuts Wednesday during a meeting in
The move comes after Air
plans to cut its capacity by seven per cent and lay off 2,000 employees. Its
regional feeder Jazz Air responded by cutting 270 jobs.
The decrease in international long-haul flights from
result in a reduction of 300 flight attendants based in the western gateway.
will also close its flight attendant bases in
and Halifax, effective Nov. 1. The decision will result in 145 job losses in
Winnipeg and 187 in Halifax.
Many of these employees are senior workers with 20 to 40 years of
service and earning top wages.
"It's devastating for these people. They have a long-standing
membership in the community so it's a huge blow," Beveridge said from
The union will push to improve the airline's offer to encourage the
voluntary departure of flight attendants.
has offered a $10,000 inducement for employees at the two bases to quit. Options
available for workers in
include leaves of absence and lifetime standby travel passes.
But Beveridge said the airline's incentives are inadequate. The
union will push for increased job sharing and other steps to fully mitigate the
Airline spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur said the decision to close the
bases was not made lightly.
"However, following a close review it was determined that due to
the changing nature of our domestic flying over the past five years, it was no
longer viable to base in-flight crews at these two locations," she said
The bases have become less efficient as more flight attendants in
the two cities have to travel to other base locations to start their work day.
Arthur said the airline will meet with Canadian Union of Public
Employee representatives to determine bumping and mitigation options that will
be made available according to the collective agreement.
Town hall meetings with managers are planned to discuss employee
concerns and answer questions.
The layoff of flight attendants comes as the former Air Canada
Technical Services maintenance division announced the immediate layoff of 650
employees, because of deferred repair work at its largest customer and the
conclusion of overhauls to two aircraft models.
shares, which have fallen by 58 per cent in the past year, lost 50 cents, or
7.94 per cent to $5.80 Thursday afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange.