After the airline trade was grounded within the spring when governments around the globe launched COVID-19 lockdown measures, WestJet pilots have been dealing with important and speedy job losses.

In whole, about 1,200 positions have been on the chopping block, however these within the cockpit made the selection to take successful on their paycheques as an alternative, agreeing to a 50 per cent pay reduce and decreasing the variety of job losses to 450.

The WestJet settlement is only one instance of the tradeoff that many staff and corporations face because the pandemic causes extreme monetary stress for many components of the financial system. Introducing pay cuts or decreasing hours for staff and executives is one technique to hold firms afloat till enterprise picks up.

“Our pilot group has achieved what we are able to to assist our firm survive,” stated Capt. Dave Colquhoun, the union chair representing pilots at WestJet and the corporate’s low cost service Swoop.

“We balanced saving jobs versus how a lot of a pay reduce our membership was keen to take,” stated Colquhoun, a WestJet pilot himself. 

Extra pilot positions at WestJet Encore, that are represented by a special union, have been additionally misplaced. 

Capt. Dave Colquhoun, chair of the union representing pilots at WestJet, stated pay cuts have been unlucky, however a step the group was keen to take to assist the corporate survive. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

Economists say that for some staff, taking residence a smaller paycheque is best than no paycheque in any respect, contemplating the present job market. 

“We have seen it in a whole lot of totally different sectors,” stated Charles St-Arnaud, chief economist with Alberta Central, the central banking facility for credit score unions within the province.

“Lots of staff are making the determination that we’re most likely higher to take a pay reduce than being unemployed and never with the ability to discover work once more, or not discovering work for a while.”

Employers need to retain expert staff

For employers, negotiating both diminished wages or hours may be a technique of retaining workers, particularly these with distinctive expertise, coaching or certification.

“When you lay them off, how simple is it to re-hire?” stated St-Arnaud. “You do not need to lose your staff, as you wish to be able to pounce and begin earning money once more” if enterprise improves.

That is one cause behind many cuts to pay and hours in industries just like the oil and gas sector, since many staff who depart that trade typically do not return.

WATCH | Ottawa considers subsidies to rebuild regional airline routes:

CBC Information has realized that the federal authorities is taking a look at subsidies for airways to assist rebuild among the regional routes suspended when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the journey trade. 1:47

Nevertheless, economists say the prevalence of pay cuts is tough to quantify as a result of there are such a lot of different elements impacting the workforce throughout COVID-19.

As an example, common wages within the nation have been really greater this summer time in comparison with 2019 as a result of many lower-wage jobs have been misplaced in the course of the pandemic.

At WestJet, the pay reduce was the results of decreasing the minimal quantity of hours assured to pilots and the suspension of a program the place the airline matched the quantity of firm shares pilots bought, as much as 20 per cent of their pay. An interim deal had been in place after WestJet was purchased by Onex in 2019, whereas the 2 sides negotiated a alternative program.

Airways proceed to foyer for help package deal

“It is a important reduce and will be the most vital reduce in compensation throughout the trade in Canada,” in keeping with Capt. Tim Perry, president of the Air Line Pilots Affiliation (ALPA) Canada, which represents pilots at 15 airways within the nation. 

“It is completely drastic,” stated Perry, who can be a WestJet pilot. “It is arduous to overstate the importance of one thing like that.”

He stated about half of all of the pilots he represents are both furloughed or dealing with imminent layoffs, and that those that have misplaced their jobs can have issue discovering different work.

“We’ve members who’re dropping their properties, who’re fortunate to discover a job driving a truck in lots of instances, or worse off than that,” Perry stated. “It is taken an infinite toll on folks’s capacity to manage and get by.”

The airline sector has lobbied the federal authorities for a monetary help package deal particular to the trade. 

The federal authorities has rolled out several programs providing liquidity and mortgage ensures, such because the massive employer emergency financing facility (LEEFF) and the enterprise credit score availability program (BCAP), that are supplied to quite a lot of sectors.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has in a roundabout way addressed a bailout of the beleaguered trade, however has stated he plans to maintain working with airways hit arduous by the pandemic. 


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