Posted January 26, 2009
Union Statement

CUPE slams new round of cuts at Air Canada

OTTAWA - Air Canada has announced it will lay off 345 flight attendants in the airline's latest round of cuts. The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents the flight attendants, and CUPE National President Paul Moist is deeply concerned about service. "Air Canada has decided to squeeze more money out of its passengers and workers by reducing the number of flights and service quality onboard. The management has already cut 600 flight attendant positions and closed two flight attendants bases in 2008 - an unnecessary move which contributed to mayhem in Canadian airports during the holidays."

Air Canada had blamed high fuel costs for its previous round of cuts. Since then, the price of oil has collapsed. "We are not aware of any liquidity issue - the company has raised over 500 million dollars in December. What we know is that our members will soon enter bargaining. They are the ones who kept the company afloat in 2003-04 with significant concessions. They are the ones who got the company a 'Best In-Flight Services in North America' award last December. They are now overworked because the company keeps trimming jobs. This is no way to treat your staff," added Moist.

The 345 layoffs come after Air Canada has commenced the use of scab "training specialists" in place of flight attendants in December. "Air Canada managers seem to be setting the stage for confrontation and disruption around bargaining. Our union will respond to these bullying tactics. CEO Montie Brewer should wonder how Canadian travelers will appreciate such a rapidly deteriorating climate," concluded Moist.

The Air Canada Component of CUPE represents more than 5,700 flight attendants based in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. Their contract is due to expire on June 30, 2009.

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