WestJet issues 72-hour lockout notice to aircraft engineer union members

Calgary-based airline WestJet has issued a 72-hour lockout notice to the union representing its aircraft maintenance engineers Saturday, potentially stopping work “unless a deal is reached.”

The notice went to the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), which represents the WestJet employees, and the airline says a work stoppage could happen as early as Tuesday, May 7.

The AMFA put out a notice to members at the end of April calling for a referendum vote on May 9 on whether to go on strike against WestJet, calling recent negotiations “unreasonable.”

WestJet said Saturday the decision for the lockout notice was not “made lightly.”

“Despite our unwavering commitment to reach a collective agreement, AMFA continues to show up to the bargaining table with unreasonable demands and expectations,” said Diederik Pen, president of WestJet Airline and group chief operating officer, in a news release.

“With AMFA publicly issuing a strike vote alert last week and publicly directing guests to fly with other carriers, we can’t allow the unpredictable nature and lack of progress to continue. We are left with no alternative but to issue a lockout notice in an attempt to bring this to a final resolution.”

AMFA and WestJet have been in negotiations since September 2023.

The airline claims it has presented an offer to AMFA that would make WestJet engineers “the highest paid in Canada,” with a cumulative wage increase of over 20 per cent across the span of the collective agreement.

WestJet says the notice doesn’t mean there will be travel disruptions but will manage any impacts that may ensue.

This includes plans to operate on a reduced schedule, proactively managing changes and cancellations, and providing easy changes and cancellation options “for those who wish to make alternative arrangements.”

CityNews has contacted the AMFA for comment.