flight attendants cupe

Flight attendants rally at major Canadian airports in protest of unpaid work

Flight attendants held a national day of action at four major Canadian airports on Tuesday to protest what they say is the "rampant abuse of unpaid work in the airline industry."

CUPE, the union representing 18,000 flight attendants across Canada, says that they are essentially not paid when the plane is not in motion.

This means that airlines don't pay flight attendants for assisting passengers with boarding, deplaning, pre-flight safety checks, delays that happen at the gate, and more, CUPE spokesperson Hugh Pouliot said.

"[Flight attendants] want the airlines to start compensating them for time worked," said Pouliot. "Essentially, if you're at work in your uniform, then you should be getting paid. Isn't that how it works in most jobs?"

The union also conducted a survey of its members in December, which found that, on average, a flight attendant in Canada works for free for 35 hours every month.

That's nearly a full work-week every month that goes unpaid.

This comes as CUPE flight attendants' agreements with several airlines, including WestJet and Air Canada, are set to expire in the coming years, reported CBC. The union is currently negotiating a new collective agreement with Air Transat.

In email statements, WestJet and Air Canada say they have negotiated a collective agreement with CUPE, which they both abide by.

"Regarding rates of pay, these rates were bargained to take into account a credit hour system that provides wages on a basis other than duty time worked, including pre and post flight duties," stated a WestJet spokesperson.

"The WestJet Group remains committed to listening to and addressing concerns raised by our valued cabin crew members through the bargaining process."

Air Canada had no further responses to the day of action.

The rallies took place at Toronto Pearson International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, Calgary International Airport and Montreal-Trudeau this morning.

YVR assured passengers on Monday night that the informational picket would not impact travellers.

Pearson, Montreal-Trudeau, and Calgary International Airport have not replied to request for comment.

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