'Today's announcement gives a sigh of relief to workers'
Air Canada and WestJet have announced that they plan to rehire thousands of workers recently laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic using the revised Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.
Air Canada’s rehiring plans will affect about 15,200 of Air Canada’s unionized workforce who were put off duty and about 1,300 managers who were furloughed starting April 3. WestJet, meanwhile, will get 4,600 workers back on payroll.
"The Canada emergency wage subsidy is an extremely important program to help employees and employers during this time of crisis," says Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada president and CEO.
Though not all workers will go back to work, they will receive 75 per cent of their wages of up to $847 weekly while at home. The rehiring will be retroactive to March 15, with the wage subsidy program expected to last until at least June 6.
In a video posted on Twitter, Ed Sims, president and CEO of WestJet, said that the airline will immediately get in touch with workers affected by the development.
“This does not automatically mean that they will be coming back to work as there may simply not be enough work for them, but it will help them make ends meet.”
Unifor welcomed the development, saying that it would benefit 3,000 of its members who were placed on off-duty status.
"Unifor members in the airline sector face substantial and lasting consequences as the efforts to contain the virus intensify around the world," says Euila Leonard, president of Unifor Local 2002. "Today's announcement gives a sigh of relief to workers."