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WestJet AMEs back on the job after disruptive two-day strike

By Skies Magazine | July 2, 2024

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 51 seconds.

WestJet continues to grapple with the fallout from a strike by its aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs) that massively disrupted operations over the busy Canada Day weekend.  

AMEs walked off the job on Friday evening, prompting the airline to park 130 aircraft at 13 airports across Canada, WestJet said. The parties reached an agreement at around 10:30 p.m. Mountain Time on Sunday, and the AMEs were directed to immediately return to work.  

“The damage to Canadians and our airline is massive, a swift resolution was necessary; we take no victory laps on this outcome but will sleep better tonight knowing further harm has been prevented,” said Diederik Pen, president of WestJet Airlines and Group chief operating officer.  

“We will see no further labour action coming out of this dispute, as both parties agree to arbitrate the contract in the case of a failed ratification.”   

The agreement appears to have ended a furious war of words between WestJet management and the union representing its AMEs, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA).  

AMFA had said it would comply with an order from the federal government to enter into binding arbitration to resolve outstanding terms of their first collective agreement with WestJet.  

AMEs decided to walk off the job anyway, resulting in the cancellation of at least 800 flights, WestJet said in a statement on Sunday. The airline said the strike had “compounding impacts” on “tens of thousands of customers.”  

The parties reached a tentative agreement for a five-year contract that provides, “substantial improvements over both the current terms of employment and the terms provided for in the first tentative agreement,” AMFA said.  

Terms of the agreement were not released but include immediate pay increases and improved benefits for the employees, among other concessions, per AMFA.  

Union members in good standing will now vote to ratify the agreement. AMFA contends that ratification will render the government-ordered arbitration process unnecessary.  

“We believe this outcome would not have been possible without the strike, but we do regret the disruption and inconvenience it has caused the traveling public over the Canada Day holiday period,” AMFA said in a statement. 

“The timing was coincidental as the negotiation process did not follow a predictable timeline. We are pleased the strike lasted only 48 hours and that service can now return to normal. We appreciate the support the public has given us as our organization stood up to management on behalf of hardworking Canadians. We appreciate everyone’s patience in the face of cancelled flights and changing plans. 

“Now it’s time to show the world how we make WestJet fly.” 

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