Drivers and unions call for financial support from Ottawa

The pilots ’unions and Unifor are keeping up the pressure and calling on Ottawa for urgent and significant financial assistance. “The damage to the airline industry could become permanent,” they fear.

In their proposal submitted to a press conference Thursday, union leaders from Unifor, the Air Canada Pilots Association and the Canadian side of the Airline Pilots Association are asking for $ 7 billion in direct financial support. The assistance would consist of, inter alia, a “combination of loan guarantees and direct financial assistance to restore and / or maintain air services.” The three unions say they represent more than 300,000 workers.

Giving the example of Germany, Singapore, France, the United Kingdom and the United States, Canada is the only one among the main developed countries not to apply direct measures for the travel and tourism sector. . “There really is no more time to waste,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president. “Otherwise our Canadian airlines will disappear, and it will cost us all a lot more. “

Unions applauded the extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CUSS) until next summer. “If the extension of the SSUC program [qui cible les employeurs] offers some protection to employees, we have seen the layoffs of thousands of people, including a disproportionate number of aviation workers. The sad reality is that airlines are companies that require a huge amount of capital, have a high cash flow rate, and need to protect their cash flow to maintain their aircraft, operate their routes and pay their staff. The SSUC program does not take this reality into account, ”they are careful to note.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which was not part of the press conference, said in a statement that a government assistance plan should include provisions “important to support workers” rather than promoting financial performance of companies. According to the union representing 15,000 flight attendants, a financial boost should not rule out an equity investment. For Jerry Dias, government participation should only be considered if an airline is unable to meet its obligations after obtaining a federal loan, according to a text from The Canadian Press.

The Machinists Union (IAMAW) on Wednesday spoke of the repercussions of the difficulties of the airlines on the whole industry. He cited data from a survey by the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) showing that “more than 95% of its members are operating at a fraction of their full capacity or have gone out of business altogether. More than half (60%) have laid off workers and 76% plan to do so in the next six months. Overall, AIAC members expect their turnover to decline by 40% in 2020. “

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