WestJet Workers Could Be Going On Strike & Here's When It Could Happen

Workers say they are "burnt out" over "flight chaos."

A WestJet plane at Calgary Airport.

A WestJet plane at Calgary Airport.

WestJet workers in Calgary and Vancouver have "voted overwhelmingly" to take strike action if they cannot reach a new contract deal with the airline, and strikes could take place as early as this month.

WestJet employees at the Calgary International Airport and the Vancouver International Airport are asking for better wages as "flight chaos" has led to workers receiving the brunt of passenger frustration, according to Unifor.

Unifor added that 98% of Unifor Local 531 – which represents over 700 WestJet employees, including baggage service agents, customer service agents and guest service leads at the two airports — voted to strike. This strike could take place as soon as July 27 if a new deal isn't agreed upon.

Air travel started to pick up again this spring, following disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, and Canada's airports have been hit with flight delays and baggage issues since.

The union said WestJet workers had been faced with "verbal abuse" and sometimes "physical threats" from travellers whose flights were delayed or cancelled.

It added it is important for WestJet to understand how the current conditions are a "pressure-cooker atmosphere" for workers.

Sherwin Antonio, a member of the Local 531's Calgary Bargaining Committee said WestJet employees are "burnt out."

"This is the perfect storm of massive worker shortages, lost baggage and flight chaos. The people who get the brunt of the anger aren't the people in the boardroom, but us. We have been telling the company for months, we need more support. And we need it now," Antonio added.

If the strike does take place on July 27, Unifor must serve WestJet with 72 hours' notice of its intention to strike.

In a statement, WestJet's Executive Vice-President and Chief People, Corporate and Sustainability Officer Angela Avery said the strike authorization was "not unexpected," but the airline will "remain focused" on negotiating an agreement with its employees.

Charlie Hart
Charlie Hart was a Travel Creator for Narcity Media focused on Canadian and global travel and is based in Calgary, Alberta.