Aviation workers will be holding a rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa this Tuesday, Oct. 20th, 2020, at Noon to demand from the Government of Canada concrete measures for a safe reopening of the aviation industry.
PAX first reported on this event on Oct. 8, speaking with march organizer Lisa Kampis, a flight director at Air Transat and vice-president of Locale 4041, who called the rally a collective effort involving several groups, including Air Transat cabin attendants, pilots Gilles Hudicourt and Michel St-Marie, as well as other individuals who work in aviation.
The individuals who organized the event belong to a Facebook group called “Aviation workers made redundant in Canada by the COVID-19 crisis,” a place where airline employees whose jobs were impacted by the COVID-19 crisis “can make their existence and their issues known to the Federal and Provincial Governments of Canada."
The group, which boasts more than 11,400 members, is the same group that tried to organize a protest of a similar nature in Ottawa on Sept. 23rd. (That event, unfortunately, was postponed due to timing and logistical issues).
As of Monday morning, the event page for the Oct. 20th rally showed 231 people RSVP’d as “GOING,” with another 577 saying they were “INTERESTED.”
“We expect our representatives in the House of Commons to listen to the thousands of flight attendants that CUPE represents and to the tens of thousands of workers employed directly or indirectly in the aviation sector who are worried for their future," Kampis told PAX.
Kampis said the collective is working alongside Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA), CUPE National Air Division, CUPE National, among others groups.
Urgent action needed
Like many in Canada’s travel industry, aviation workers who have lost their income amid the COVID-19 pandemic face mounting financial hardships, said Kampis.
“Our people, workers from our industry, are extremely competent employees in a particular sphere,” said Kampis. “They have lost their jobs. The mortgage payment deferral is now over… Some people are losing their homes as we speak and have difficulty feeding their families.”
Among the strictest in the world, air travel restrictions imposed by the Canadian government since March 2020 to stem the spread of COVID-19, also brought the commercial aviation industry to nearly a complete halt.
For nearly eight months, there has been no clear message from Ottawa on specific measures in place to gradually restart the industry.
Something the Canadian government could do is quickly introduce COVID-19 rapid testing at airports, which would kickstart the industry and allow “tens of thousands of workers to progressively return to work and pay their taxes,” said Kampis.
“We believe the government could change the current portrait of the industry, which is currently dying,” Kampis told PAX.
Ottawa needs to introduce specific financial assistance for the tourism sector to enable industries, businesses and their employees to survive this “unprecedented crisis,” she said.
“We all chose this profession for a reason,” said Kampis. “Taking care of people is our business. The government must take concrete actions now to ensure an economic recovery by scientifically innovating a restart of this vital economic engine.”
Travel advisors welcome
Kampis told PAX that travel advisors are more than welcome to join the group at the rally on Tuesday.
“We are all in this together!” she said. “The tourism industry is not only representing airline crew members. It’s the whole tourism industry that is being affected, representing $102 billion in economic impact.”
She noted the 1.8 million Canadians that work in travel and tourism who are being “fiercely impacted by this pandemic.”
“It goes without saying that travel agents, aircraft mechanics, people working in airports, restaurants and in food services, citizens working in the organization of festive events, concert halls, and convention centres must mobilize themselves and take action with the airline crew members in this march,” said Kampis.
For more info on the Oct 20th event, click here.
Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!