Air Canada outsourcing union work to temporary foreign workers

Union objects to Air Canada outsourcing three routes

Tim Alamenciak
The Star: May 19, 2014

Airline trying to set a “dangerous precedent” by using foreign workers instead of union employees.

As Air Canada celebrates the arrival of its much-anticipated Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the union that represents some of its employees is speaking out against the decision to outsource two jets and staff to a foreign airline because of manufacturing delays with the new planes.

A note from management sent to staff Friday outlined the company’s plans to replace flights to Madrid, Lima and Bogota with so-called “wet leases” — airplanes from EuroAtlantic Airways that come with foreign flight attendants and pilots — to make up for the delay in manufacturing Boeing 787 planes.

The planes are being purchased to replace the airline’s Boeing 767s. The new 251-seat aircraft will allow Air Canada to open up a route between Toronto and Tokyo’s Haneda airport starting in July. The initial delivery was delayed more than three years and the upcoming deliveries are delayed by approximately six weeks.

The company weighed several options before deciding to wet-lease planes, including diverting jets from its low-cost Rouge service and renting planes that could be staffed by Canadian crew members.

“We looked at using Rouge aircraft, but the Rouge aircraft are all full. There’s a big demand for where they’re going this summer, so we couldn’t use those. We also looked at using different airplanes with our own crews. Unfortunately that wouldn’t work either because there was nothing available. This really was the best option,” said Peter Fitzpatrick to a Star reporter at the landing event for the 787. “It is just a very short term thing. I think it’s only going to be six weeks for the summer.”

The note was sent by executive vice-president and chief operating officer Klaus Goersch to all flight attendants late Friday afternoon, according to the union. The Star obtained a copy of the email.

“This is not a decision we came to lightly but our first priority must be to our customers who have placed their faith in us to get them reliably and safely to the destinations of their choice,” reads the memo.

The union is currently exploring options with its legal team to fight the move. Cournoyer said the decision to outsource the operations of two aircraft sets a “dangerous precedent” for the future.

“It’s a shame that Air Canada, our national carrier, is outsourcing to foreign workers. Jobs should rightfully belong to Canadians. Now it’s a very slippery slope. What’s going to happen in the future?” said Cournoyer.

(read the full article at The Star)

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