Air Canada to ask workers to reduce hours, take leave or retire: Union memo

Air Canada to ask workers to reduce hours, take leave or retire: Union memo

MONTREAL — The union representing Air Canada flight attendants says the airline is set to ask employees to work less — or not at all — as concerns over job security buffet the airline industry.

Air Canada will ask workers to slash their schedules, go on leave for up to two years or resign with travel privileges, according to an internal bulletin to members from the Canadian Union of Public Employees sent out Thursday night and obtained by The Canadian Press.

The memo states that CUPE is in discussions with Air Canada over continuing the federal wage subsidy, which the airline has not committed to maintain past June 6.

“We know this news is not what any of us were expecting,” states the bulletin, signed by the president of CUPE’s Air Canada component and two other union officials.

“The reality is that COVID-19 has severely impacted the demand for air travel over the past few months and into the foreseeable future. As such, there is no denying that we are dealing with the largest surplus of cabin personnel in our history.”

Air Canada confirmed that further cuts are imminent.

“We expect that both the overall industry and our airline will be considerably smaller for some time, which will unfortunately result in significant reductions in both fleet and employee levels,” the airline said in an email.

It did not answer questions about whether it would drop the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which Ottawa recently extended through August, or how many layoffs were upcoming.

Air Canada announced five weeks ago it would rehire 16,500 laid-off employees — including 6,800 flight attendants — via the subsidy program, which covers 75 per cent of a worker’s normal hourly wages or up to $847 per week.

The vast majority of rehired Air Canada employees have stayed at home under the subsidy as more than 200 planes remain grounded amid the collapse of global travel triggered by the outbreak of COVID-19.

While Air Canada is not contributing to most worker wages, the airline has continued to put money toward pensions and benefits, a continuous cash drain at a company that lost more than $1 billion last quarter.

The Montreal-based company has been bleeding cash since mid-March, slashing its flight capacity by over 90 per cent ahead of even fewer expected passengers between April and June.

Though traffic is expected to pick up somewhat before year’s end, more than 200 planes remain grounded and Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu said last week the recovery will be slow, with at least three years of subpar earnings.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:AC)

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Air Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP remind Albertans to practice rail safety

In 2019, Alberta had the second highest number of total railway crossing incidents

Central zone active cases down to 20

Province provides update

2020 Business & Citizenship recipients announced

Event is hosted by the Stettler Regional Board of Trade & Community Development

Clearview Public Schools has honoured Cindy Zimmermann as the recipient of the 2020 Clearview Star Award

Zimmerman has also gone with Teachers Across Borders to share her talents for a semester in Vietnam

Library column: October is only a few days away!

Culture Days will be back next September, so keep watch for future announcements

Quirky Canadian comedy ‘Schitt’s Creek’ takes Emmys by storm with comedy sweep

Toronto-raised Daniel Levy and Ottawa-born Annie Murphy both got supporting actor nods

Lacombe beekeepers give the buzz on winterizing hives

Winterizing a honeybee hive is not a simple task, local apiarists say

Six injured, man in custody following BB gun incident in Alberta, RCMP say

Airdrie’s downtown core was told to shelter-in-place, while others nearby were asked to stay inside

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Wetaskiwin RCMP make arrests for Hit and Run to residence

Damage estimates are expected to be in excess of $20,000.

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

“My world exploded,” says Bentley-area farmer who’s swather was struck by a motorist

Dennis Duncan was a mile from home when his swather was struck by another travelling at high speeds

Most Read