A strike on the horizon at Sunwing?
1 février 2013
Friday, February 1, 2013 The union of Sunwing flight
attendants, attempting to negotiate their first collective
agreement, recently learned of the dismissal of management’s
spokesperson at the negotiating table. The Interim Director of
Human Resources lost his job on Wednesday, January 23. The union
views this as a major setback. Furthermore, in the last few days,
the company seemed to be doing as much as possible to stall the
« This director was the only Sunwing negotiator
accustomed to collective bargaining. Under his leadership, with the
help of the Ministry of Labour conciliator, the talks were
productive. His departure is a very bad sign. We’re concerned that
negotiations will be deadlocked, and we suspect that is exactly
what the company wants, » said Mark Brancelj, president of the union
of Sunwing flight attendants, CUPE Local 4055.
At the company’s request, a conciliator from the Ministry of Labour
was appointed on January 2. Two days of conciliation were held on
January 17 and 18, and five more are scheduled between February 11
and 15. Sixty days after its beginning, the conciliation period can
be extended with the consent of both parties. But as things stand
now, the union doubts that it would agree to an extension. This
means the union could acquire the right to strike from March 24.
Soixante jours après son début, la période de conciliation pourra
être prolongée si les deux parties y consentent. À ce stade-ci, le
syndicat doute quil y consentira, ce qui veut dire qu’il pourrait
acquérir le droit de grève à compter du 24 mars.
« With the departure of the management spokesperson, it seems as if
we’ll be starting from scratch. This is extremely frustrating for
the flight attendants who are waiting for their first collective
agreement. If our fears of a deadlock materialize, we will have no
choice but to consider strike action, » warned Caroline Bédard, the
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) national representative
responsible for the file.
Last March, the approximately 900 Sunwing flight attendants chose
to join CUPE in a vote conducted by the Canada Industrial Relations
Board. Since accreditation, their union local has organized and
taken shape. The union bargaining committee is made up of
representatives from each of the airline’s six bases: Vancouver,
Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City. It has been
attempting to negotiate its first collective agreement since
September 12, 2012.
CUPE is Canada’s largest airline union. In addition to its Sunwing
members, CUPE represents nearly 10,000 flight attendants at Air
Canada, Air Transat, CanJet, First Air and Cathay Pacific, as well
as ground agents at Porter Airlines in Ottawa.
CUPE is the largest union in Canada, with 618,000 members working
in health, education, municipalities, libraries, universities,
social services, public utilities, urban and air transport,
emergency services and communications.