Major Changes at WestJet


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WestJet announces organizational changes to secure its future


NEWS PROVIDED BY

WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership 

Jun 24, 2020, 14:05 ET

 

  •  

CALGARY, AB, June 24, 2020 /CNW/ - Today, WestJet announced organizational changes that will see the company consolidate call centre activity in Alberta, contract out airport operations in all domestic airports outside of Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto, and strategically restructure its office and management staff. The moves are aimed at streamlining WestJet for a competitive future following the COVID-19 crisis.

For a video message from WestJet President and CEO, Ed Sims, click here: https://youtu.be/O-EyS-4HpCg

"Throughout the course of the biggest crisis in the history of aviation, WestJet has made many difficult, but essential, decisions to future-proof our business," said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. "Today's announcement regarding these strategic but unavoidable changes will allow us to provide security to our remaining 10,000 WestJetters, and to carry on the work of transforming our business. WestJet will once again serve the needs of Canadian travellers with low fares and award-winning service levels tomorrow and years from now." 

Overall, 3,333 employees across the country will be affected. As WestJet works to select new airport service partners, the airline will seek out preferential employment opportunities for as many of the airport roles as possible.

The COVID-19 crisis hit WestJet and the global aviation industry with devastating force. Since the beginning of March, guest traffic has dropped in response to virus fears and travel advisories that halted almost all but essential travel. To mitigate the impact on its workforce, WestJet implemented immediate cost-cutting measures including releasing a majority of outside contractors, instituting a hiring freeze, stopping all non-essential travel and training, suspending any internal role movements and salary adjustments, cutting executive, vice-president and director salaries and pausing more than 75 per cent of its capital projects. 

WestJet has continued to operate service to all 38 year-round domestic airports during the pandemic to ensure essential lifelines for travel and cargo remained open but overall, the airline's scheduled operations have been reduced by more than 90 per cent year over year.

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Wow. Westjetters are fast becoming a dying breed.

On a legal note - isn’t terminating an employee and then telling them to apply to the company that is taking over their work a breach of the “follow the work” provisions of the Canada Labour Code? I’ll bet 3333 soon to be former Westjetters are sure glad they didn’t sign up with a big, bad union that would be charged with representing their collective interests. If they are lucky they will have the same drive to work and will be ‘hired’ at a fraction of their current pay and with less benefits.

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2 hours ago, North of You said:

The rumour for this has been going around for over a year now. So they finally pulled the trigger, and as per “The Shock Doctrine”,  now’s the perfect time for them I guess. 

I wonder...who are you? 

Don't worry, that's not a serious question and I don't really want an answer.  I just find it fascinating when a new person shows up with specific details or information about something.  Makes me wonder; are you really a new person or someone we already know that created a new profile to be able to anonymously post a comment.  Either way, fine with me, welcome North of You.  Please continue to post.

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3 hours ago, North of You said:

The rumour for this has been going around for over a year now. 

I'd suppose that outsourcing of ground handling has been under consideration at plenty of airlines for a long time.  Many already do outsource.  BA employs its own agents and ramp workers (for now) only at LHR.  Elsewhere in the UK they outsource.  United and BA are the only two airlines that still self-handle at LHR.  Delta has set up a subsidiary from which it outsources its airport workers at many US stations.

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There is a massive difference between having your own staff and contracting out. There is at least a connection to the airline and to the customers with your own staff. Contracted staff couldn’t care less about the customer.  The only thing that remains from early WJ is the name. Everything else is gone.  

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ONEX cares about .... cost.

ONEX could not care less about corporate culture or ‘Westjetitude’.

Subcontracting stations and sacking thousands of employees will save ONEX $$.

The COVID crisis just accelerated the inevitable once ownership changed.

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2 hours ago, seeker said:

I wonder...who are you? 

Don't worry, that's not a serious question and I don't really want an answer.  I just find it fascinating when a new person shows up with specific details or information about something.  Makes me wonder; are you really a new person or someone we already know that created a new profile to be able to anonymously post a comment.  Either way, fine with me, welcome North of You.  Please continue to post.

No conspiracies here. Just another WJer who is slowly feeling a little less cynical with all this time away from the job. Hence, I’m feeling like talking about aviation again. 
 

PS This time off has been the best thing that has happened to me in quite some time. 

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1 minute ago, North of You said:

No conspiracies here. Just another WJer who is slowly feeling a little less cynical with all this time away from the job. Hence, I’m feeling like talking about aviation again. 
 

PS This time off has been the best thing that has happened to me in quite some time. 

Well, you're certainly welcome here - feel free to post.  I wasn't thinking about any conspiracy - I've been here a long time and tend to notice new posters.  I'm not saying anything negative about that - just that I notice.  Jump in - post your thoughts.  If you really want some fun, start posting in the non-aviation forums.

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14 hours ago, UpperDeck said:

Lol....yes, NOY.....welcome. Seeker remains to many of us " oldtimers" a newbie. I " joined" somewhere around 1997-2000 but my seniority was ratioed and top-blocked due to my lack of sim time.

WHOA!!! I just checked my profile for date of joining. 1969???? Did I do that? I was only 10.

 

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57 minutes ago, GTFA said:

WHOA!!! I just checked my profile for date of joining. 1969???? Did I do that? I was only 10.

 

Tell Al Gore he's full of it. Apparently YOU discovered the internet! ?

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1 hour ago, J.O. said:

Tell Al Gore he's full of it. Apparently YOU discovered the internet! ?

The internet was a far better place before Al Gore "discovered" it.  It may not have been flashy but the information was all free and correct.

 

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2 hours ago, boestar said:

The internet was a far better place before Al Gore "discovered" it.  It may not have been flashy but the information was all free and correct.

 

I have been on the internet since 1993 (and had access to internet email a few years before that) and the 90's internet was full of nonsense. Stumbling into a message board for militia members and white supremacists sometime around 1995 was illuminating.

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Unifor condemns WestJet outsourcing scheme


NEWS PROVIDED BY

Unifor 

Jun 25, 2020, 14:37 ET


CALGARY, AB, June 25, 2020 /CNW/ - Unifor is disturbed by WestJet's plans that will eliminate more than 3,000 jobs in an outsourcing scheme revealed earlier this week. 

"It is disgraceful and downright un-Canadian that WestJet would punish the workers who made this historic Western Canadian start-up so successful. This is pandemic capitalism at its worst," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "I find it disturbing that WestJet is using the pandemic to justify its outsourcing scheme as so many of the workers who will lose their jobs were in the process of signing union cards with Unifor." 

WestJet's plans were announced by its parent company, Onex Corporation, one of the largest private equity firms in Canada. At the time Onex acquired WestJet in 2019, Unifor warned workers and the public of its reputation as a predatory takeover specialist with a long history of devastating cost-cutting and restructuring.

"Up until the time Onex's takeover, WestJet employees were considered owners," said Kellie Scanlan, Unifor's Director of Organizing. "But after this week's announcement, it's clear that at WestJet, management does not want workers to have a voice."

Unifor has a proven record of securing collective bargaining language that specifically protects airline workers from outsourcing schemes. While Unifor has been working hard to organize workers at WestJet it has faced an aggressive management-led campaign to undermine card signing efforts. In recent weeks, Unifor organizers have noted a substantial increase in the number of WestJet workers reaching out to sign union cards.

"This outsourcing scheme at WestJet shows what happens when workers do not have a union to protect them," added Dias. "We will continue to fight for frontline WestJet workers and stand with them during this difficult time."

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

SOURCE Unifor

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For further information: To arrange an interview via FaceTime or Skype, please contact Unifor Communications Director Natalie Clancy at Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org, 416-707-5794 (cell).

Related Links

http://www.unifor.org

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35 minutes ago, internet said:

For $100 a month you’d all still be laid off but those with seniority could move half way across the country to work still.  Sign your cards!

One thing unions have going for them is Seniority and rules for layoffs, pay etc etc etc.  Of course in the end, layoffs that is, it is the old last in first out rule.  But that does beat the non union rules of my friends stay and those I don't like go first.....  Nepotism...... that is.   

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9 hours ago, Marshall said:

One thing unions have going for them is Seniority and rules for layoffs, pay etc etc etc.  Of course in the end, layoffs that is, it is the old last in first out rule.  But that does beat the non union rules of my friends stay and those I don't like go first.....  Nepotism...... that is.   

Right...Because managers are all so stupid and self centred that they can’t objectively evaluate who is productive and who isn’t.  Seniority protects the weak and useless at the expense of others and the business.

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2 hours ago, internet said:

Right...Because managers are all so stupid and self centred that they can’t objectively evaluate who is productive and who isn’t.  Seniority protects the weak and useless at the expense of others and the business.

both things you say are true, re managers though (qualifier should be some), the same of course applies to weak and useless.  Unions only appear when employees are not happy with Management........so........

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AID URGENT FOR AIRLINES

Industry fears collapse

  • Calgary Herald
  • 27 Jun 2020
  • AMANDA STEPHENSON astephenson@postmedia.com Twitter.com/amandamsteph
img?regionKey=PtBVqLL967OX%2fKmno3G5Zg%3d%3dGAVIN YOUNG A Westjet flight from Vancouver lands at the Calgary International on Wednesday, the same day the airline announced the permanent layoff of 3,300 employees.

In the wake of more than 3,300 permanent layoffs at Calgary-based Westjet this week, industry experts say the federal government needs to do more to keep Canada’s aviation industry from completely collapsing.

The layoffs at Westjet — which had 14,000 employees and flew to more than 100 destinations in 24 countries prior to the start of the COVID -19 pandemic — were called a “last resort” by CEO Ed Sims, who made the announcement Wednesday.

The airline has already accessed the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program, which provides a 75-per-cent wage top-up for eligible employers and is set to expire at the end of August, and has temporarily furloughed half of its remaining 10,000 employees — keeping them on the payroll even though border closures and a 90-per-cent reduction in passenger traffic mean there is no work for them to do.

The airline continues to review all options as it seeks to “preserve and protect our future to mitigate the impacts to our employees, operations and our investments in communities across Canada,” said Westjet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart in an email.

In May, the country’s largest carrier, Montreal-based Air Canada, announced layoffs of 20,000 employees — 50 to 60 per cent of its workforce.

Porter Airlines, Transat and Sunwing Airlines have also announced substantial workforce reductions since the start of the pandemic.

Some analysts say these layoffs may only be the beginning if the federal government doesn’t do more to assist ravaged Canadian airlines. While the Trudeau government has said airlines are eligible for the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (a federal program designed to provide short-term liquidity assistance to large companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic), it has not announced any form of sector-specific aid package.

That differs from the approach taken in many other jurisdictions. In the U.S., for example, airlines have been awarded a Us$25-billion bailout package which includes low-interest loans as well as grants that do not have to be paid back. France, Germany, Italy, Singapore and Hong Kong have all also announced significant rescue packages for their airlines.

“Ottawa is moving at a glacial pace. It’s embarrassing and they have to pick up the pace,” said Robert Kokonis, president of independent consultancy Airtrav Inc.

“I know that all the CEOS are putting pressure on and maybe this Westjet announcement will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in Ottawa.”

“I think we’re just starting to see what I think is the tip of a very large iceberg,” said Calgary-based independent aviation consultant Rick Erickson, of the Westjet layoffs. “We have a strong aviation sector today; we need to have a strong Canadian-owned and operated aviation sector in the future. And I’m at a loss at this point as to why the Canadian federal government isn’t paying more attention to this.”

John Gradek, who teaches aviation leadership and airline management at Mcgill University, said the federal government is likely leery of announcing aviation-specific aid since there are many other sectors — oil and gas, tourism — that are also suffering significantly during this time.

“Once you start doing sectoral support, you open a can of worms that could cost you a lot of money,” Gradek said.

However, he added with air travel demand unlikely to rebound anytime soon, Canadian airlines are facing a dire situation.

He said a company like Westjet — which had been aggressively expanding in recent years with the addition of low-cost carrier Swoop and its international Dreamliner routes — will likely need to give up those ambitions and focus on its main line domestic market for the foreseeable future as it fights for basic survival.

“We’re pushing the airline industry back at least five years, if not 10,” Gradek said. “(Canada’s airlines) will be significantly smaller airlines with significantly fewer routes and significantly fewer airplanes around. We’ll be a shadow of our former selves, to put it mildly.”

In an email, Livia Belcea — press secretary for federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau — said the government is “continually updating” its responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been in touch with airlines and we understand the impact COVID-19 is having on their industry and we are with the workers who are facing a difficult situation in these unprecedented times,” she said in an email.

That’s not good enough, said Peter Cerda, regional vice-president for the Americas with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 290 airlines around the world including Air Canada, Air Transat and Westjet.

IATA estimates that revenues generated by airlines in the Canadian market will fall by $14.6 billion (43.2 per cent) in 2020 due to COVID-19, putting at risk nearly 250,000 Canadian jobs and $25.4 billion of Canada’s GDP, Cerda said. “The longer we go without government intervention, the more risk there is that the size of the airlines going forward will be very different,” Cerda said.

“They will be smaller, there will be less jobs and the longevity of that airline will be put at risk.”

While access to liquidity is one pressing need, Cerda said it’s also crucial that the federal government remove the 14-day quarantine requirement for international arrivals.

He said airlines have gone to great lengths to implement new health and safety protocols, but they will not be able to capitalize on Canada’s short but lucrative summer travel season if visitors face a mandatory two-week quarantine on arrival.

“The longer we go with the industry basically on lockdown, the more difficult it is going to be to recuperate these airlines,” Cerda said. “The urgency right now is to get the industry back in the air.”

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