July 12, 2022 By Wings Staff
TORONTO — Sunwing Airlines Inc. is rejecting a claim by pilots that it bargained in bad faith by opting not to disclose a forthcoming acquisition by WestJet.
Calling a complaint to the labour relations board “without merit,” the Toronto-based tour operator says the deal to be acquired by WestJet came more than a year after a new collective agreement between union and management was signed.
The 452 pilots, represented by Unifor, filed a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board on Monday.
It states the union reached a tentative agreement with management in January 2021, less than two weeks before media reported Sunwing had received an offer from an unnamed company and that Sunwing and WestJet had discussed purchase possibilities in the past.
Unifor members ratified the four-year deal shortly after. WestJet announced last March its deal to buy Sunwing Airlines and Sunwing Vacations for an undisclosed sum, with the transaction subject to regulatory approval.
Barret Armann, who heads the union local representing the pilots, said they made concessions with the understanding the pandemic had imposed financial pressures on the airline, and that if the sale negotiations had been “transparent” Unifor could have pushed for job security language in case of an acquisition.
“Sunwing Airlines will continue to promote positive labour relations in good faith as more of our customers return to travel and we continue to rebound from the pandemic,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.