Vancouver Flair Air flights could be delayed by union action next week

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Travel plans for customers of Flair Airlines could be disrupted next week.

The union representing flight attendants with the discount carrier that flies out of Vancouver and Abbotsford has issued 72-hour strike notice. The key issue for 139 workers negotiating their first contract is wages, namely new hires getting paid less than more experienced flight attendants. Pensions and scheduling conflicts are also listed grievances.

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Picket lines haven’t gone up yet, but service will be slower.

“Flights are not grounded at this time. There is no impact on passenger safety,” says union rep Gary Yee. “There will be like a slowdown and a reduction of service on board. Your ability to buy beverages and things like that will be limited.”

Yee says they’ve been bargaining for their first contract nearly a year and the key issue is money.

“You have a set of wages for the current employees and a set of wages for new hires and what they’re trying to do is, well, they actually have introduced a two-tier system where people doing the same jobs get two different rates of pay,” he says.

He says there could also be legal action against the company involving a memo sent to employees, which said they will get $150 per day: “scab pay to cross our picket lines, so this is kind of been unheard of. We think this is unfair labour practise. We will be looking at all legal avenues to pursue this.”

For now, the only job action planned for Monday involves a slowdown and reduction of service, so no flights will be grounded.

Flair Air wants to stay sustainable as a business

Flair Airlines says it has been paying flight attendants 30 per cent higher wages than its competitors and in order to keep the business sustainable, it wants new employees to start at the same level as flight attendants at rival companies.

“Our aircrew is at the heart of our organization, and we believe our current offer provides a high quality of life for our flight attendants, while ensuring our business remains sustainable,” reads an emailed statement to NEWS 1130. “After CUPE called the strike, we received considerable support from our flight attendants. Many contacted management to indicate they will work during any labour action called by the union.”

The company adds passengers on Monday flights should check the status of their flight.