CUPE: Air Canada flight attendants are being left out in the cold

CUPE Press Release | May 22, 2020

Estimated reading time 2 minutes, 22 seconds.

The union representing Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge flight attendants said it is disappointed that the airline is cutting thousands of its employees loose and they are not able to access emergency COVID-19 benefits from the federal government.

The options Air Canada presented to its employees last week as it announced it was reducing its workforce by roughly 60 per cent do not allow the departing workers to access the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, according to CUPE. Air Canada Photo

Air Canada announced last week that it will reduce its workforce by up to 60 per cent, and is now forcing its employees to choose between a voluntary unpaid leave for six to 24 months, reducing their work hours with no job share top up or resigning from the company. These options prevent employees from accessing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) because they are deemed voluntary. They have also made the option of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy completely unavailable.

“The government and Air Canada are washing their hands of this devastating situation and the only options our members are left with is either quit or get laid off and go on EI,” said Wesley Lesosky, president of the Air Canada Component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. “This is shameful and disrespectful towards the workers who have built this airline, who faced this epidemic on the front lines, and who were among the first in Canada to get sick with COVID-19 while doing their jobs.”

Lesosky said the problem could be fixed if the government and Air Canada worked together to make more meaningful options available. He is calling on the government to step in.

“We want the federal government to step in and work with the airline so they’re not putting our members out in the cold for no fault of their own. Options like the CEWS are available and must be sought because there is a great deal at stake for our members and their families,” said Lesosky.

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