Air Transat’s 2,100 flight attendants could soon have a new collective agreement: the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) announced Sunday evening the conclusion of a new agreement in principle with Air Transat.
Union general meetings must take place in the coming days to reveal the content of the agreement to the employees concerned. It will also be put to a vote, which could end a labor dispute that has lasted for several months.
The collective agreement for these flight attendants established at the Montreal and Toronto airports expired on October 31, 2022, and negotiations between the two parties officially began on April 27.
On November 27, flight attendants almost unanimously passed a strike mandate, voting in favor of it by 99.8 percent. According to CUPE, this was “by far the highest result in the history of [its] Air Transat component.”
However, on December 14, a first agreement in principle was reached between CUPE and Air Transat. Submitted to members during general meetings held around ten days later, it was rejected by the flight attendants by 98.1%. No less than 87% of agents had cast their vote in this unequivocal rejection.
If the flight attendants were to accept the agreement in principle this time, the threat of a possible strike would end. Until then and until January 23, the strike mandate remains valid, but the union did not resort to this ultimatum after the first agreement was rejected, to the great joy of passengers flying on the wings of Air Transat. In the event of a strike, which should be announced with at least 72 hours’ notice, the carrier’s operations would be paralyzed – at least in part.
“A strike is considered to be something that is not within the control of the carrier,” Sylvie De Bellefeuille, of Option consommateurs, explained to La Presse earlier this week. “In this kind of situation, you’re basically entitled to rerouting. And if the airline is unable to do so within 48 hours, consumers could request a refund, but there is no additional compensation that applies. »
Dominic Levasseur, president of the Air Transat component of CUPE, said he was convinced that the agreement proposed in mid-December would satisfy his troops before they massively rejected it. No comments were made following the agreement reached on Sunday.
One of the main union demands concerns unpaid hours. The union estimates that a flight attendant works an average of 35 hours per month without pay, such as when a flight is canceled, or even just the time spent boarding and disembarking.
At the beginning of 2023, the union launched a campaign to encourage the federal government to change the regulations allowing carriers not to pay for these hours, without success.