Air Canada job cuts in Halifax will have devastating impact



    HALIFAX, July 10 /CNW/ - The president of the CUPE local representing
Air Canada employees in Halifax says the announced job cuts are going to have
a devastating impact, both on employees but also on the local economy.
    Lisa Vivian Anthony of CUPE Local 4090 says, "Air Canada brought the
union executive representing 8,000 flight attendants from six CUPE Locals from
across the country to Toronto yesterday, to talk about mitigation options for
the 500 layoffs they announced two weeks ago.
    "The company informed us that they had conducted 'Base Viability Studies'
but did not provide us with any details or results of the studies which were
necessitating the closure of the Halifax and Winnipeg bases. CUPE anticipates
reviewing these details with a financial analyst when the information is
provided to us," she says.
    CUPE National Representative, Peter Baxter says, "Obviously, this bad
news was brewing for days and possibly weeks as they had eight-page Fedex
packages ready to be delivered to affected members, as well as managers in
place at the affected bases to deal with shocked and grieving flight
attendants.
    "The public needs to understand that the economic hit is staggering for
the local economy in Halifax. The average income of flight attendants is
approximately $40,000 per year multiplied by 200 crew members, which amounts
to $8,000,000 annually that will be forever lost," says Baxter.
    Baxter explains, "In previous rounds of concessionary bargaining during
bankruptcy protection (CCAA) there was a wholesale gutting of our collective
agreement to help the company recover from financial instability. We tightened
our belts to assist Air Canada, our members took a 13.5% wage cut to help keep
the company afloat and now they are paying us back by throwing us an anvil and
closing our base."
    Anthony says, "We negotiated packages for our senior members to exit with
dignity and a voluntary separation package to help smooth the transition. This
was agreed upon by the company during bankruptcy protection and now they are
denying our senior members the packages. We are currently in arbitration over
this issue. The union is perplexed as to why the company would not want to
replace the senior members with new hires making half the money. They agreed
to this and now they are fighting us every step of the way."
    Says Baxter, "They paid Robert Milton, President and CEO of Air Canada's
parent company, $43 million dollars in 2007, and Air Canada President and CEO,
Montie Brewer $8 million dollars. Obviously, they need to get the money from
somewhere and the pound of flesh is coming off the backs of the flight
attendants based in Halifax and Winnipeg."
    Says Anthony, "It is the end of an era for us. We have been serving the
travelling public for 32 years. We have some members who have been working
here for over 30 years."




For further information:

For further information: Lisa Vivian Anthony, President, CUPE Local
4090, (902) 873-2307 (o); Peter Baxter, CUPE National Rep., (902) 401-0942
(Cell); John McCracken CUPE Communications Rep., (902) 455-4180 (o)

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - Atlantic Region

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