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MARANA, ARIZONA - MAY 16: Decommissioned and suspended Westjet commercial aircrafts are seen stored in Pinal Airpark on May 16, 2020 in Marana, Arizona. Pinal Airpark is the largest commercial aircraft storage facility in the world, currently holding increased numbers of aircraft in response to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

NEWS HEADLINES: WestJet Cancels Over 400 Flights Due To Mechanics Union Surprise Strike – One America News Network

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Commercial Airlines Park Dormant Planes At Pinal Airpark Outside Of Tucson, Arizona MARANA, ARIZONA – MAY 16: Decommissioned and suspended Westjet commercial aircrafts are seen stored in Pinal Airpark on May 16, 2020 in Marana, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

OAN’s Abril Elfi
12:13 PM – Sunday, June 30, 2024

Canada’s WestJet airline has canceled over 400 flights due to strikes affecting more than 49,000 passengers. 

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On Friday, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association said its members began striking due to the airline’s “unwillingness to negotiate with the union.”

The federal government issued a ministerial order for binding arbitration on Thursday, which sparked the unexpected strike that affected both domestic and international flights. That came after two tumultuous weeks of talks about a new agreement with the union.

In preparation for the extended weekend that ends on Monday with Canada Day, WestJet announced that it will keep parking aircrafts through Sunday. The airline estimates that it will be flying about 30 of its 200 aircrafts by Sunday night.

The airline’s CEO, Alexis Von Hoensbroech, put the blame for the situation squarely on what he said was a “rogue union from the U.S.” that was trying to make inroads in Canada.

Von Hoensbroech stated that the airline had concluded negotiations with the union when the government ordered binding arbitration of the dispute.

“This makes a strike totally absurd because the reason you actually do a strike is because you need to exercise pressure on the bargaining table,” he said. “If there is no bargaining table, it makes no sense; there shouldn’t be a strike.”

He added that the union had rejected a contract offer that would have made the airline’s mechanics the “best-paid in the country.”

The union negotiating committee cited a Canada Industrial Relations Board order that does not specifically forbid strikes or lockouts while the tribunal conducts arbitration in a membership update.

A WestJet aircraft maintenance engineer named Sean McVeigh, claimed that the strike was an effort to pressure the airline to resume “respectful negotiation,” but stated he regretted any inconvenience the passengers affected experienced. 

“However, the reason they (passengers) have possibly missed a flight or had to cancel is due to the fact that WestJet is not respectfully sitting down at the table and negotiating,” he said. “We take on a lot of responsibility, and we would just like to be appreciated financially.”

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