Jump to content

Some Canadian Airlines seeking Labour code exemptions


Guest
 Share

Recommended Posts

 Air North is seeking the same changes ,The National Airlines Council of Canada, which counts Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz and WestJet as members, has also expressed concern about the incoming changes

https://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/topstories/westjet-asks-federal-government-for-exemptions-to-incoming-labour-code-changes/ar-AAGmzvr?ocid=spartanntp

Calgary Herald

WestJet asks federal government for exemptions to incoming labour code changes

Sammy Hudes

1 hour ago

As changes to the Canada Labour Code are set to kick in next week, WestJet is asking Ottawa for exemptions that would deny pilots, crew members and other employees from certain new entitlements.

In June, the federal government set Sept. 1 as the start date for a series of amendments to labour standards in federally regulated workplaces.

The changes affect rules surrounding overtime refusal, rest periods and breaks, advance notice of schedule and shift changes, personal leave, vacation entitlements and more.

But in a letter to the federal government dated Aug. 14, WestJet, along with low-cost carrier Swoop and regional airline WestJet Encore, requested exemptions to three of the updated provisions.

WestJet is seeking exemptions to changes that would give workers the right to written notice 24 hours before a shift change, the right to refuse overtime to carry out family responsibilities and a mandated 30-minute break within every five hours of work.

If the airline’s application is successful, all three exemptions would apply to airline pilots, flight attendants, flight operations personnel and aircraft maintenance employees.

Exemptions to the shift change notice and overtime refusal amendments would also apply to airport employees, like customer and baggage service workers.

WestJet added it is in the process of altering its policies to better align with the upcoming changes.

“WestJet nevertheless seeks exemptions to a select few of these amendments,” stated the letter, which was addressed to Danijela Hong of Employment and Social Development Canada.

© Gavin Young A WestJet airplane taking off from Calgary International Airport.

The company argued some of those Labour Code changes are “entirely impractical” to employees like pilots and cabin crew, with shift changes on short notice often necessary to ensure passengers aren’t stranded and WestJet employees are able to return to their home base.

“WestJet is obliged to provide constant, round the clock care to its passengers during flights of any duration,” making mandated rest periods and meal breaks for flight attendants “impractical and unworkable,” the airline stated.

It added flight disruptions can happen due to weather or other “acts of God,” aircraft servicing and facility constraints, staffing shortfalls and aircraft equipment changes. Those “unavoidable” aspects of WestJet’s business sometimes require necessary shift changes for airport employees, according to the company.

But Chris Rauenbusch, president of CUPE 4070, which represents WestJet cabin crew members, said “blanket exemptions” are not the way to go.

“We agree and we recognize that our work environment is different than most workplaces. These seem to generally be written for sort of office, or factory-type of settings,” he said.

“However … the intent of the government was to improve working conditions and rights for workers. Although our industry is different, it shouldn’t grant automatic immunity to these organizations from providing some increases in worker rights.”

The National Airlines Council of Canada, which counts Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz and WestJet as members, has also expressed concern about the incoming changes.

In an Aug. 19 letter to Employment Minister Patty Hajdu, the association, which advocates for air carriers on regulatory and policy-related matters, predicted the new rules would contribute to flight delays and cancellations.

“For this reason, we strongly urge you to delay the implementation of these provisions until such a time as either 1) appropriate adjustments are made to the framework to address the misalignment with other related federal regulations, or 2) the exemption process provided can be executed in a proper manner,” wrote NACC president and CEO Massimo Bergamini.

Related

Air North, Yukon’s Airline, has also written to the federal government to express concern about the new regulations.

In its submission, WestJet stated it had negotiated with its unions to find “extensive alternative work rules” to the Labour Day weekend changes.

But Rauenbusch said the proposed exemptions “were made without knowledge of the union” and came completely by surprise. He called it “a misleading representation to the government.”

“They haven’t been in contact with the union whatsoever,” he said.

Rauenbusch said CUPE was working to file a rebuttal to the federal department. He said the union was open to a conversation with WestJet, suggesting payment in lieu of mandatory breaks as a possible alternative.

The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents WestJet pilots, declined to comment. But in a memo to its members Friday, the association stated that “companies cannot ignore legal rights that are provided to our members.”

The union representing WestJet flight dispatchers said it hoped to work out a resolution with the airline.

“It was disappointing for the company to apply for exemptions without advising their intentions to us, but we’re absolutely wanting to continue dialogue,” said Justin Jones, chair of the WestJet local for the Canadian Airline Dispatchers Association.

“These changes won’t impact the airline the way they’re implying.”

In a statement, WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart said the airline “will continue to work with the federal government to ensure labour standards that balance important employee protections with the complexities of commercial airline operations.”

shudes@postmedia.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

44 minutes ago, Tango Foxtrot said:

I for one, will go home at the end of my shift, should I choose to. Don't care what the rules are.

 Make overtime mandatory,  I will never work another second. 

 

 You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. 

back in the day, in the aviation world, most union contracts contained wording and rules for OT drafting, after all we were a 24/7 business.  Has that changed?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

24/7 businesses should have sufficient rest time for employees. (ie duty days) Eight hours of rest is quite different than 8 hours between shifts. There is room for improvements in the current regulations.

Also, shifts have changed, most companies are operating on a condensed work week shift (ie 4 to 5 days of 11 or 12 hr shifts). It's quite normal after 11 hours at work to be fatigued. Human factors training teaches us the importance of rest...  Wouldn't it be coherent for the policies to reflect basic HF?

For the drafting of OT, historically it's always been a zoo. From staff coming to work with their kids, to employees

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The issue with all of these 'hard stop' rules is that the application for exemption is examined by people who sit at a desk and go to the food court for coffee breaks.    Even if they once worked in industry,  the memories of waking up tired and going to work because the alternative was too hard on their families are long gone.

Just like we all get that having the pilots onboard the same aircraft as their passengers yields safer decisions, the corollary is also true.  A regulator who is not living with the reason for a protective rule is far more likely to grant an exemption from it.  The numbers give an appearance of objectivity and it is too easy to dismiss the union complaints as featherbedding.

All just my opinion.

Vs

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aviation is a very unique business when it comes to work rules.  As stated previously breaks are kind of an issue at 36.000 feet. While I agree that flight crew require some special attention but ground crew and other staff really do not require any exemptions as the rules can be worked in to the scheduling.

It is a complex issue for sure

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, boestar said:

Transport Canada already sets a duty limit for aviation Employees in Maintenance and Flight crew.  Those are supposed to be hard stop limits

 

Boestar,

What are the AME duty days? I have yet to find them...

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you search the web, you will find incidents where the final outcome is for Transport Canada to set Duty days for AMEs but the regulator hasn't acted on the recommendations.

Last time I am aware that it was brought up at CARAC, both Westjet and AC were lobbying against it.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, mrlupin said:

Boestar,

What are the AME duty days? I have yet to find them...

 

I was under the understanding that it was a 15 hour day maximum.  that may have been a policy and not code though

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, mrlupin said:

There's nothing from TC so the operators are free to establish whatever policies they want and under SMS, not following those policies has no repercussions.

Don't the various collective agreements cover this?  , duty days, shift times, drafting for overtime, vacation entitlement, seniority etc etc (IAMAW) .  eg. http://iamaw2323.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/IAMAW-CBA_2016-to-2026.pdf

Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, Tango Foxtrot said:

I for one, will go home at the end of my shift, should I choose to. Don't care what the rules are.

 Make overtime mandatory,  I will never work another second. 

 

 You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. 

Maybe, but the horse will drink when it’s thirsty.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

WestJet asks federal government for exemptions to incoming labour code changes

 
‎Yesterday, ‎August ‎28, ‎2019, ‏‎7:26:45 PM | Canadian Aviation News

News provided by the Financial Post – link to full story and updates

airport-gavin-young-calgary-herald-calga A Westjet Boeing 737 taxis towards the Calgary International Airport.Gavin Young / Calgary Herald

As changes to the Canada Labour Code are set to kick in next week, WestJet is asking Ottawa for exemptions that would deny pilots, crew members and other employees certain new entitlements.

In June, the federal government set Sept. 1 as the start date for a series of amendments to labour standards in federally regulated workplaces.

The changes affect rules surrounding overtime refusal, rest periods and breaks, advance notice of schedule and shift changes, personal leave, vacation entitlements and more.

But in a letter to the federal government dated Aug. 14, WestJet, along with low-cost carrier Swoop and regional airline WestJet Encore, requested exemptions to three of the updated provisions.

WestJet is seeking exemptions to changes that would give workers the right to written notice 24 hours before a shift change, the right to refuse overtime to carry out family responsibilities and a mandated 30-minute break within every five hours of work.

If the airline’s application is successful, all three exemptions would apply to airline pilots, flight attendants, flight operations personnel and aircraft maintenance employees.

Exemptions to the shift change notice and overtime refusal amendments would also apply to airport employees, like customer and baggage service workers.

WestJet added it is in the process of altering its policies to better align with the upcoming changes.

“WestJet nevertheless seeks exemptions to a select few of these amendments,” stated the letter, which was addressed to Danijela Hong of Employment and Social Development Canada.

The company argued some of those Labour Code changes are “entirely impractical” to employees like pilots and cabin crew, with shift changes on short notice often necessary to ensure passengers aren’t stranded and WestJet employees are able to return to their home base.

“WestJet is obliged to provide constant, round the clock care to its passengers during flights of any duration,” making mandated rest periods and meal breaks for flight attendants “impractical and unworkable,” the airline stated.

It added flight disruptions can happen due to weather or other “acts of God,” aircraft servicing and facility constraints, staffing shortfalls and aircraft equipment changes. Those “unavoidable” aspects of WestJet’s business sometimes require necessary shift changes for airport employees, according to the company.

But Chris Rauenbusch, president of CUPE 4070, which represents WestJet cabin crew members, said “blanket exemptions” are not the way to go.

“We agree and we recognize that our work environment is different than most workplaces. These seem to generally be written for sort of office, or factory-type of settings,” he said.

“However … the intent of the government was to improve working conditions and rights for workers. Although our industry is different, it shouldn’t grant automatic immunity to these organizations from providing some increases in worker rights.”

The National Airlines Council of Canada, which counts Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz and WestJet as members, has also expressed concern about the incoming changes.

In an Aug. 19 letter to Employment Minister Patty Hajdu, the association, which advocates for air carriers on regulatory and policy-related matters, predicted the new rules would contribute to flight delays and cancellations.

“For this reason, we strongly urge you to delay the implementation of these provisions until such a time as either 1) appropriate adjustments are made to the framework to address the misalignment with other related federal regulations, or 2) the exemption process provided can be executed in a proper manner,” wrote NACC president and CEO Massimo Bergamini.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The story is about WestJet where the heat is on from their unions re. the letter they wrote but I would be very surprised if there was not similar reactions from the unions at other Canadian Airlines.
‎Today, ‎August ‎31, ‎2019, ‏‎3 hours ago
 

Unions push back after WestJet asks Ottawa for exemptions to new federal labour code provisions

 
‎Today, ‎August ‎31, ‎2019, ‏‎3 hours ago | Canadian Aviation News

News provided by The Star – link to full story and updates

WestJet argued in a letter Aug. 14 to the federal government that some of the proposed changes will be “operationally unattainable” for some of its workers, including pilots, ground maintenance crews, and flight attendants.

By Brennan Doherty, Star Calgary, Sat., Aug. 31, 2019

CALGARY—Unions representing WestJet’s workers are pushing back against attempts by the Calgary-based airline to exempt some of its workforce from new federal labour code changes — but Ottawa may grant them anyway.

Long-awaited updates to the Canada Labour Code click in Sept. 1, affecting about 900,000 workers — or 6 per cent of all Canadian workers — employed in a variety of federally regulated sectors. These include airlines, railways, banks, broadcasting, grain elevators, and uranium mining. But the government already intends to grant a reprieve on new hours of work provisions for certain always-on sectors, like transportation.

“We recognize that not all workplaces are the same and that some may face challenges with updates to the Canada Labour Code,” read a statement from Employment and Social Development Canada.

WestJet argued in a letter Aug. 14 to the federal government that some of the proposed changes will be “operationally unattainable” for some of its workers, including pilots, ground maintenance crews, and flight attendants. These include the requirement to give at least 24 hours’ written notice before a shift change, the right for workers to refuse overtime in order to carry out family responsibilities, and the entitlement to an unpaid 30-minute break for every five hours of work.

Employment and Social Development Canada said it is working on a list of employee groups to be covered by the exemptions. A spokesperson for the agency did not explicitly say whether WestJet would receive an exemption when asked by Star Calgary. Followup questions were not answered by press time.

Bills C-63 and C-86, which govern the new changes, were given royal assent in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Yet Employment and Social Development Canada said it began consulting with employers and worker representatives in May to gather opinions on anything in the new legislation that the government should consider when drafting regulations on hours of work for certain types of employees.

WestJet claimed it consulted unions representing its workers on “extensive alternate rules” to the labour code changes in its Aug. 14 letter. Employment and Social Development Canada said it had been consulting with employees and workers since May. But union representatives denied that.

Chris Rauenbusch, president of CUPE 4070 — representing WestJet’s cabin crews — acknowledged a flight attendant’s duties may not allow for exact adherence to the new labour code rules. Airlines do not run like a traditional 9-to-5 office. Yet he took issue with WestJet’s request for a blanket exemption for certain workers, rather than trying to figure out a solution.

“Just simply because our work environment is different, doesn’t mean that there needs to be a blanket exemption,” he said. “There’s creative ways to work around some of these (issues).”

By way of example, Rauenbusch said it wouldn’t be impractical for several flight attendants to spell each other off on flights every five hours. Justin Jones, WestJet chairperson for the Canadian Airline Dispatch Association, said flight dispatchers typically work a 12-hour shift, but are encouraged by the company to take informal breaks — even just a walk around the parking lot — whenever possible.

“It’s very tough to implement them in the type of environment that we work at. There’s no arguing that,” Jones said. “However, nobody likes getting side-swiped with finding out this information second-hand without the company engaging with us.”

In response, CUPE 4070 said it “emphatically rejects the idea of blanket regulatory exemptions” in a draft letter to the federal government obtained by Star Calgary. It proposed allowing exemptions if workers and employers jointly agree in a collective agreement.

If negotiations aren’t finished — as they aren’t for CUPE 4070, which is still working on a first collective agreement for its 4,000 members — the union said it would be OK with a temporary exemption until bargaining is finished.Get more of today’s top stories in your inboxStart your morning with everything that matters in Calgary with our Morning Headlines newsletter.Sign Up Now

It also proposed exemptions to the Canada Labour Code changes not be made permanent. Instead, the union wrote, they should be subject to a review period every three years to ensure workers are being protected at a level comparable to the code itself.

Employment and Social Development Canada said it’ll hold more consultations on proposed exemptions or modifications to hours of work regulations in the fall after the federal election. The interim rules will apply until the federal government puts in regulations allowing modification or exemptions to some hour of work provisions, expected to take place in 2020.

Brennan Doherty is a work and wealth reporter with Star Calgary.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share



×
×
  • Create New...