Furloughed WestJet workers demand clarity on wage subsidy program amid pay cut

The union representing 350 WestJet employees at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport has ratified a 2.5-year collective agreement that includes pension and benefits gains.

The agreement enshrines the airline’s savings plan specifically for this group of workers. The plan permits contributions to either a cash savings plan, a group registered retirement savings plan or a group tax-free savings account. Employees can contribute up to 20 per cent of their earnings and the employer will match up to 20 per cent.

“This was a group of workers that really had no protection,” says Leslie Dias, director of airlines for Unifor. “In recent years, with the uncertainty from the pandemic it was a tense environment, so the members were very pleased with these gains and the stability they provide.”

Read: WestJet, Unifor agreement includes retirement gains, sick days

In addition, full-time workers will receive 12 paid sick days and part-time workers will receive 10 sick days. Employees will also receive wage increases of between 8.4 per cent and 20 per cent within the first year of the agreement and additional wage increases of two per cent on Jan. 1 each year until 2026.

In other news, the union representing employees at Ottawa’s Carleton University has also ratified a three-year collective agreement.

The agreement includes improved parental leave and up to four weeks of paid leave for employees undergoing medical procedures related to gender affirmation. In addition, contract instructors will see wage increases of 14 per cent, graduate teaching assistants will see increases of nine per cent and undergraduate TAs will get an increase of 13.5 per cent.

Read: Northern Transformer, Unifor agreement includes pension, benefits gains