WestJet reaches agreement with engineer union ending 48 hours of strike chaos

WestJet Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 at Calgary International Airport
calgaryplanes.com / Creative Commons

WestJet and the Airplane Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) confirmed that strikes spanning three days have ended.  

In a statement on June 30, 2024, AMFA, which represents WestJet aircraft maintenance engineers, said that it had negotiated a new contract covering the next five years after talks resumed on Sunday.  

After the latest strike began on June 28, 2024, 680 WestJet engineers downed tools and Canada’s second biggest airline was forced to run a skeleton service with 150 of its 180-strong fleet pulled from service. 

WestJet began cancelling flights on June 27, 2024, in preparation for the industrial action and has so far scrapped 829 as a direct result of the strike.  

Disruptions are set to continue on July 1, 2024, as WestJet works towards restoring operations following the chaos on what is one of Canada’s busiest weekends in the year for travelling. 

“The damage to Canadians and our airline is massive, a swift resolution was necessary; we take no victory laps on this outcome but will sleep better tonight knowing further harm has been prevented,” said Diederik Pen, President of WestJet Airlines and Group Chief Operating Officer. “We will see no further labour action coming out of this dispute, as both parties agree to arbitrate the contract in the case of a failed ratification.”   

Under the new tentative agreement, which will need to be approved by union members, AMFA secured “immediate pay increases, full restoration of the WestJet Savings Plan (WSP), and improved benefits for the employees”. 

“We believe this outcome would not have been possible without the strike, but we do regret the disruption and inconvenience it has caused the traveling public over the Canada Day holiday period. The timing was coincidental as the negotiation process did not follow a predictable timeline,” AMFA said in a statement

The union added: “We are pleased the strike lasted only 48 hours and that service can now return to normal. We appreciate the support the public has given us as our organization stood up to management on behalf of hardworking Canadians. We appreciate everyone’s patience in the face of cancelled flights and changing plans.” 

The new agreement follows a difficult period between WestJet and AMFA after a previous tentative agreement was rejected by aircraft maintenance engineers in June 2024.  

After a planned strike on June 20, 2024, was cancelled WestJet and AMFA returned to the negotiating table but talks ended on June 27, 2024.  

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