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WestJet Cancels 150 Flights On Saturday as CEO Fumes at Mechanics Union Decision to Go On Strike

WestJet Cancels 150 Flights On Saturday as CEO Fumes at Mechanics Union Decision to Go On Strike

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The chief executive of Canadian airline WestJet has called on federal authorities to take action to stop a strike by mechanics who went on strike on Friday evening in a continuing dispute over pay and conditions.

On Saturday, WestJet was forced to cancel 150 flights due to the walkout and mass disruption is expected to continue until the airline’s mechanics return to work.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association said in a statement that it had been forced to call a strike because of WestJet’s “unwillingness to negotiate” over a new contract for its members at the airline.

The labour dispute has been dragging on for several months but after the two sides failed to reach a compromise, the Canada Industrial Relations Board recently ordered WestJet and AMFA into binding arbitration in an attempt to end the impasse.

That arbitration, however, won’t take place for several weeks and in the meantime, Canada’s labour courts have cleared the mechanics to take strike action.

WestJet says the “unreasonable” strike has already impacted 20,000 passengers who had their flights cancelled on Saturday and has warned that significant flight cancellations will follow in the days ahead.

“WestJet is actively and aggressively pursuing every avenue to minimize disruption, including asking for immediate intervention by the Minister of Labour and the Canada Industrial Relations Board,” the airline said in a statement on Friday.

“A strike serves no one, as this negotiation has already been referred to binding arbitration,” commented Diederik Pen, WestJet’s president and chief operating officer.

“The scale of this deliberate disruption is devastating and AMFA must be held accountable for their reckless actions. Without immediate intervention, significant disruption will unnecessarily harm tens of thousands of Canadians along with the entire economic ecosystem that depends on our critical air service.”

In response, the union said a strike became ‘inevitable’ when WestJet shut down negotiations and withdrew a contract offer after an order for binding arbitration was made by the labour courts.

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