The union representing members of Jazz Aviation is fighting Air Canada's decision to lay off more than 50 Jazz members in Newfoundland and Labrador as the airline makes changes to its services in Gander, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Deer Lake.
More than 50 employees in Newfoundland and Labrador are set to receive layoffs.
As of Nov. 1, PAL Airlines will be the new service provider under the Air Canada Express banner, and not solely Halifax-based Jazz Aviation, which currently holds the contract.
"We are making staffing changes required as a result of changes to Air Canada's schedule," reads a statement from Jazz Aviation. "We do sincerely regret the impact to our employees and will do our utmost to support them during this time."
Unifor, however, is “fighting vigorously for our aviation members at Jazz," said Unifor National President Lana Payne in a statement Friday (Sept. 8).
"Companies like Air Canada can't just be cavalier about bringing in new contracts and expect our union to sit by on the sidelines. Our members are dedicated to their jobs and deserve respect,” Payne said.
In a statement, Jazz Aviation said Happy Valley-Goose Bay will no longer be serviced by Jazz Aviation at all, resulting in 13 job losses there.
Services in Gander and Deer Lake are expected to remain open, possibly seasonally, but will also see significant job losses.
Gander will lose 16 positions, while there are 25 job cuts in Deer Lake, said Unifor, which represents 16,000 members across Canada in aviation, including nearly 2,000 members in Jazz
Aviation, from coast to coast, who work in customer service, aircraft maintenance and crew scheduling.
Unifor said it is filing grievances and lawyers are looking into possible contravention of labour standards legislation.
The union is also researching the capacity purchase agreement (CPA), which details how Air Canada outsources a portion of its business to other companies.
Unifor noted that it is open to dialogue on the issue and would prefer to resolve the issue in a manner that would benefit both the company and the affected Unifor members.
"The news of these layoffs is devastating, not only for those directly impacted but also for our entire Jazz membership," said Unifor Local 2002 President, Tammy Moore.
"Our Jazz members are dedicated and hardworking employees that have contributed to the success of both Jazz and Air Canada for decades. They are the backbone of the aviation industry. Unifor will be fighting this decision using all available resources."
In a statement to CBC News on Friday, Air Canada stressed that Jazz will continue to operate in Atlantic Canada, and that PAL will "supplement" its regional flying, with consumers likely to have more choices for bookings.
"It is important to note that while the airline serving some Newfoundland communities on our behalf has changed, the amount of capacity or seats available for people to travel on remains the same and in some cases is actually increased," the company told the news outlet.
PAL Airlines finalized a commercial deal with Air Canada early on in the summer for offering regional flights in eastern Canada.
The agreement will see PAL Airlines acquire up to six additional Dash 8-400 aircraft to be progressively introduced into service on behalf of Air Canada for a term of up to five years.
Our partnership will be beneficial for local communities as air connections support economic activity and tourism while keeping families and friends connected," said Mark Galardo, executive vice-president of revenue and network planning at Air Canada, in a statement in July.