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Unifor said it is disturbed by WestJet’s plans that will eliminate more than 3,000 jobs in an outsourcing scheme revealed earlier this week.
“It is disgraceful and downright un-Canadian that WestJet would punish the workers who made this historic Western Canadian start-up so successful. This is pandemic capitalism at its worst,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National president. “I find it disturbing that WestJet is using the pandemic to justify its outsourcing scheme as so many of the workers who will lose their jobs were in the process of signing union cards with Unifor.”
WestJet’s plans were announced by its parent company, Onex Corporation, one of the largest private equity firms in Canada. At the time Onex acquired WestJet in 2019, Unifor warned workers and the public of its reputation as a predatory takeover specialist with a long history of devastating cost-cutting and restructuring.
“Up until the time of Onex’s takeover, WestJet employees were considered owners,” said Kellie Scanlan, Unifor’s director of organizing. “But after this week’s announcement, it’s clear that at WestJet, management does not want workers to have a voice.”
Unifor has a proven record of securing collective bargaining language that specifically protects airline workers from outsourcing schemes. While Unifor has been working hard to organize workers at WestJet, it has faced an aggressive management-led campaign to undermine card signing efforts. In recent weeks, Unifor organizers have noted a substantial increase in the number of WestJet workers reaching out to sign union cards.
“This outsourcing scheme at WestJet shows what happens when workers do not have a union to protect them,” added Dias. “We will continue to fight for frontline WestJet workers and stand with them during this difficult time.”