Flight attendants held a national day of action at four major Canadian airports on Tuesday to protest what they say is the “rampant abuse of unpaid work in the airline industry.”
CUPE, the union representing 18,000 flight attendants across Canada, says that they are essentially not paid when the plane is not in motion.
This means that airlines don’t pay flight attendants for assisting passengers with boarding, deplaning, pre-flight safety checks, delays that happen at the gate, and more, CUPE spokesperson Hugh Pouliot told Daily Hive over the phone.
Our flight attendants are not paid for boarding, delays, deplaning and other duties. They work an average 35 hrs for free every month! Join the Day of Action on April 25 at an airport near you. Tell the airlines & federal government: unpaid work won’t fly! https://t.co/kndou5RPYO pic.twitter.com/oXJNM1G9mm
— CUPE National (@cupenat) April 24, 2023
“[Flight attendants] want the airlines to start compensating them for time worked,” said Pouliot. “Essentially, if you’re at work in your uniform, then you should be getting paid. Isn’t that how it works in most jobs?”
The union also conducted a survey of its members in December, which found that, on average, a flight attendant in Canada works for free for 35 hours every month.
That’s nearly a full workweek every month that goes unpaid.
This comes as CUPE flight attendants’ agreements with several airlines, including WestJet and Air Canada, are set to expire in the coming years, reported CBC. The union is currently negotiating a new collective agreement with Air Transat.
In email statements to Daily Hive, WestJet and Air Canada say they have negotiated a collective agreement with CUPE, which they both abide by.
The rallies took place at Vancouver International Airport, Calgary International Airport, Toronto Pearson and Montreal-Trudeau this morning.
YVR assured passengers on Monday night that the informational picket would not impact travellers.
Tomorrow from 9am to 2pm outside the terminal between international arrivals & the parkade, CUPE is holding an information picket in Chester Johnson Park. CUPE represents flight attendants across a variety of different airlines. We do not anticipate an impact to travellers.
— YVR (@yvrairport) April 24, 2023
Pearson, Montreal-Trudeau, and Calgary International Airport have not replied to Daily Hive’s request for comment.
Flight attendants aren’t the only employees in the airline industry fighting for fair wages. WestJet pilots could walk off the job next month in protest of low wages and poor working conditions.