With Transat Layoffs Looming, Union Calls on Trudeau for Rapid Virus Screening at Airports

Faced with major Air Transat layoffs announced for November, the Canadian Union of Public Employees is calling on the federal government to immediately deploy rapid COVID-19 screening at Canadian airports to help kick-start travel.

The Air Transat component of CUPE has just learned that the number of its flight attendant members will drop to less than 160 in November, from a total of 2,000 employees in normal times. Air Transat’s Vancouver base will be closed completely until further notice.

After the total cessation of activities last April 1, followed by the resumption of flights on July 23, the number of flight attendants reached a modest high of 355 last August.

“All of our information indicates that Air Transat’s resumption of activities in the summer and fall of 2020 was totally safe for passengers and staff. A rapid screening system that provides pre-boarding results would be a crucial addition for reviving the airline industry. We sometimes forget that more than 600,000 jobs in Canada depend on this industry, directly or indirectly. What we need is an efficient federal screening program,” said Julie Roberts, president of CUPE’s Air Transat component.

The union also noted that a broad coalition of aviation employees will demonstrate on Parliament Hill at noon on October 20, demanding concrete measures from the Government of Canada to ensure the safe recovery of the aviation industry.

Air Transat flight attendants are safety professionals whose primary role is to protect passengers. They are divided into three local unions, corresponding to their three bases: CUPE 4041 (Montreal-YUL), CUPE 4047 (Toronto-YYZ) and CUPE 4078 (Vancouver-YVR). The Air Transat component oversees these three local unions.

In total, CUPE represents more than 13,100 members in air transport in Canada, including workers at Air Transat, Air Canada Rouge, Sunwing, CALM Air, Canadian North, WestJet, Cathay Pacific, First Air, and Air Georgian.



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