Another strike looms at Pearson Airport in Mississauga, Ontario


Published April 18, 2024 at 3:36 pm

WestJet mechanics strike looms at Pearson Airport in Mississauga.

Already dealing with the impact of an airline catering worker strike, Canada’s second-largest carrier might soon be faced with a work stoppage of its aircraft mechanics at Pearson Airport in Mississauga.

WestJet’s aircraft maintenance engineers, or mechanics, are seeking a new contract and while negotiations continue, a number of workers staged an information picket on Thursday at Canada’s biggest and busiest airport.

The mechanics, represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, will be in a position to strike at the stroke of midnight on April 27. A lockout of workers by the airline could also happen at that point.

The union contends “wages have been suppressed” in Canada for several years. In an online negotiations update, the mechanics association said an offer from WestJet in March that included wage increases of 3.5, 2, 2, 1 and 1 per cent over five years is not acceptable.

The union also is not pleased with current benefits being provided to its members.

Calgary-based WestJet operates many of its flights out of Pearson Airport. Company executives said in a recent internal memo made public the airline is preparing for a strike of its mechanics by “actively developing business continuity plans to minimize operational disruption should labour action occur …”

AMFA national president Bret Oestreich said in the union’s online update that WestJet should be getting ready for a strike.

“We are the engineers who keep WestJet’s planes airworthy and flying,” he said. “Given the expected rate of inflation, the proposal (from WestJet) actually constitutes a wage reduction with a continued chokehold on industry wages for these skilled professionals. If that is WestJet’s offer, then yes, the carrier should be preparing for a strike.”

Meanwhile, striking workers at a large airline catering company located near Pearson in Mississauga remained on the picket line for a third day on Thursday.

The strike by some 800 workers at Gate Gourmet could leave many travellers departing Pearson on board WestJet, Air Canada and other carriers’ flights without the usual complement of in-flight snacks, meals and drinks.

The workers prepare and deliver meals, snacks, beverages and other supplies for passengers and crew on board hundreds of planes each day that depart Canada’s busiest airport.

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