Canada's NDP


May 30th, 2024

NDP calls to end unpaid work for flight attendants before potential job action

With WestJet and Air Canada’s union agreements up for negotiation in 2025, Canada’s NDP says it's past due for workers to be treated fairly.

May 30th, 2024

OTTAWA — On Thursday, Canada’s NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and NDP critic for Disability and Inclusion, Bonita Zarrillo, joined by representatives from the Airline Division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), called on the government to end unpaid work for flight attendants. Canadian flight attendants work an average of 35 hours a month unpaid, and 80 per cent of these workers are women.

Standing with Singh and Zarrillo were President of Air Component CUPE, Wesley Lesosky, President of CUPE 407, Alia Hussain, and Vice President of Air Canada Component CUPE, Guillaume Leduc.

“Every hour worked should be an hour that you’re paid. But under the Liberal’s, flight attendants across the country work almost a full week each month without getting a cent for it,” said Singh. “With the cost of living so high, every dollar matters. It’s absurd that the Liberals have let major airlines exploit workers—most of them women—even after giving Canada’s airlines billions of dollars of public money. And the Conservatives are no better. They let this practice go on for years before the Liberals did. Workers deserve so much better.”

Canadian flight attendants aren’t paid for almost everything they do when the plane isn’t in motion, like safety demonstrations during boarding, pre-flight safety checks and preparation, assisting passengers with mobility issues and special needs, and tending to medical or health and safety emergencies on the ground.

Meanwhile, the CEOs of Canada’s biggest airlines make millions of dollars each year. Air Canada made $21.8 billion in profits last year, and its CEO’s compensation was $12.4 million. Despite these airlines profiting from the unpaid labour of their workers, consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments have continued to give them public money.

“There is no reason big airlines, who make huge profits, should be making their staff work for free,” said Zarrillo. “This is disproportionately impacting women across this country, and it’s completely unacceptable that the Liberals have allowed big airlines to take advantage of workers like this. The Conservatives also allowed this unpaid work to happen for years, and they won’t stand up for people now. But New Democrats believe that everyone should be paid for their work, and we’re going to keep pushing to make sure that’s a reality.”

“Abusive industry practices thrive in the darkness and we are here to shine a light so that airline executives can no longer hide in the dark and so the Liberals can no longer pretend they didn’t know this kind of abuse was going on,” said Lesosky. “We are so grateful for the support we have received from our friends in the NDP who join us here today.”