Sunwing pilots say airline bargained in bad faith, file labor board complaint

TORONTO — Sunwing pilots filed a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board, arguing Monday that the airline negotiated in bad faith because it already knew it would be acquired by WestJet.

TORONTO — Sunwing pilots filed a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board, arguing Monday that the airline negotiated in bad faith because it already knew it would be acquired by WestJet.

The 452 pilots, represented by Unifor, say the union reached a tentative agreement with management on January 23, 2021, less than two weeks before media reports that Sunwing had received an offer from an unnamed company and that Sunwing and WestJet had discussed purchase possibilities in the past.

Unifor members ratified the four-year deal three weeks later. WestJet announced last March its agreement to buy Sunwing Airlines and Sunwing Vacations for an undisclosed sum.

Unifor spokesman Scott Doherty said the deal with WestJet went ahead “despite assurances from management that the company was not a candidate for sale or merger”, calling it a ‘”huge slap”.

Barret Armann, who heads the local union representing the pilots, says they made concessions knowing the pandemic had placed financial pressures on the airline, and that had the sale negotiations been “transparent”, Unifor would have been able to push for wording on job security in the event of an acquisition.

Sunwing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The federal government will conduct a public interest assessment of WestJet’s agreement to purchase Sunwing Airlines and Sunwing Vacations.

Transport Canada had until Dec. 5 to complete the review and submit it to the Minister of Transport, who would then make a recommendation to Cabinet on the deal, which requires regulatory approval.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 4, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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