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June 22, 2011

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Flight attendants ‘solid’ on strike vote

VANCOUVER – CUPE 4078 members at Vancouver International Airport have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action. The 225 members join more than 1,500 Air Transat flight attendants across the country in returning a 93 per cent strike mandate to their bargaining team. The vote results come after the airline workers rejected the employers’ last offer by 95 per cent.

Local 4078 president Julie Roberts said she is extremely proud of how solidly the local is behind the bargaining committee. “It has been really amazing to see how many people have showed up at all our meetings and voiced their support – it has been like a convention floor with speaker after speaker coming up to the mic and saying we must stay strong.’’  Roberts added that, “Even our newer and younger members are saying ‘don’t settle for less’.”

Bargaining team representatives say they still hope to negotiate an agreement and avoid a labour dispute. Roberts said a conciliation day held yesterday with the employer reaped few results, but added that another round of talks is slated for tomorrow.

On April 21, the union asked the federal Ministry of Labour to appoint a conciliator. Eight days after that request, a 60-day conciliation period began. If no agreement is reached during this period, it will be followed by another 21-day period, and finally, if there is still no agreement, the two parties may initiate a strike or a lockout, as of July 20.

“We've had 30 bargaining sessions since September 2010. Air Transat has continued to ask for cuts that simply are not justified by its financial situation. We certainly do not want to disrupt the operations of the company this summer and we are focused on negotiating a settlement as quickly as possible. At the same time, Air Transat needs to recognize the fair value of its flight attendants,” said Nathalie Stringer, president of the CUPE Air Transat Component (which includes locals in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto).

“Our members are sending a clear message. They want a pension plan that will allow them to grow older with dignity. They say no to concessions that would affect younger workers and their families. They believe that it is imperative to limit the duration of a shift to 14 hours if you truly care about passenger safety,” said Stringer. “I think we have never felt such support and unity in the entire history of our union. I am very proud of the solidarity of our members,” she added.

See the national press release here.


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