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

The union representing nearly 800 employees at Calgary and Vancouver airports has ratified a first contract that includes retirement and benefits gains.

The contract cements the continuation of the airline’s employee savings plan, which permits contributions to either a cash savings plan, a group registered retirement savings plan or a group tax-free savings account. Employee contributions are matched up to 20 per cent.

Leslie Dias, director of the airlines sector at Unifor, says some employees had the plan taken away during the coronavirus pandemic, as they didn’t have a collective agreement. “It was critical to ensure this group was treated fairly and that there is a commitment to provide these benefits.”

Read: Pilkington Glass, Unifor agreement includes paid leave, DC pension enhancements

Other gains include a 100-hour statutory holiday credit, as well as 12 sick days for full-time workers and 10 days for part time. “Prior to this agreement, part-time employees had 32 hours of sick [leave] per year,” says Dias. “They typically work up to 12 hours a day, so this was a big improvement.”

The contract also gives members a minimum 13 per cent wage increase, their first in five years. A five per cent premium over customer/priority service agents’ wage scale will replace the $1 per hour premium previously in place.

Read: HBC Logistics, Unifor agreement includes benefits gains