Written by Tess Ellis, CNN
Despite the language barrier and lack of seeming urgency on the part of Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu, dozens of employees lined up outside the Air Canada office in downtown Toronto to once again display their displeasure with the executive’s response to the company’s pilot shortage.
“Calin Rovinescu can pack his bags,” said Ben Smith, the vice president of communications at Air Canada. “He can leave. He’ll feel the way he feels. It’s time.”
The mass protest was spearheaded by the Unifor union, which represents 5,400 of the airline’s pilots.
“It’s starting to become a mockery now,” Smith said. “They’ve got their noses out of joint. Everyone at Air Canada feels it’s taking too long.”
Once a founding member of the airline, Unifor claims management’s unwillingness to provide French-language training has contributed to a pilot shortage, prompting the airline to refuse to hire foreign pilots.
“Ten, 15 years ago, there would be 30 or 40 positions available every month, but now they don’t make any sense, and they keep changing the rules,” Smith said.
The union argues Air Canada should adopt a policy similar to the one used at United Airlines, which has allowed up to 1,200 foreign pilots to work for the carrier in the United States for the past 16 years.
Unifor is currently at arbitration, with the primary sticking point being language differences. The union believes the language difference is insignificant and to be easily fixed.
They’re also seeking 20% to 30% of jobs on a seniority basis to work for the airline in either English or French.