Onex Proposal to Purchase WestJet Group
Your CUPE 4070 Executive met with Management today regarding the pending sale of the company to the investment firm Onex. Our initial impression is one of guarded optimism, with some outstanding concerns yet to be addressed.
The good news is that Onex will maintain WestJet as a Calgary based airline. They have committed to no job losses, and to support WestJet’s published expansion plans. We will hold them to those promises.
For now, our main concern is the question of what this means for the future of the Employee Share Purchase Plan (ESPP). This matter will need to be resolved through bargaining and based on the Company’s proposal for all employee groups. As stated in today’s employee teleconference, WestJet and Onex have committed to maintaining a similar compensation program which will offer equal or better value for employees. We intend to hold the Company to that commitment.
Onex’s optimism in WestJet is underscored by the fact they paid 167 percent of Friday’s share price to acquire the airline. A longstanding and successful firm like Onex wouldn’t do that unless they are confident in the company’s continued success.
WestJet is a Canadian business success story, becoming one of the nation’s best-known brands. We hope Onex will continue to develop WestJet to its full potential as an airline industry leader as they have publicly pledged to do.
As an aside, a CBC/Canadian Press story about this deal points to ‘labour unrest’ as a reason WestJet incurred recent losses. We could not disagree with this more. Not a single day has been lost to any kind of labour unrest since unions have been certified at WestJet. We are still operating under the same wage rates and working conditions as before CUPE was certified to represent Cabin Crew Members.
We will continue to update you on this and other bargaining matters as developments occur.
Your CUPE Local 4070 Executive Team