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News : Air Canada Announces Date for Closure of Call Centre
Oct 17, 2014 -- Air Canada has set a date for the closure of its Winnipeg call centre.
The airline has informed its employees the call centre will cease operations in just more than two years.
The 76 workers and the union that represents them -- Unifor -- have known since last fall the centre would be wound down over time due to changing technology. But they hadn't been given a specific date for the closure.
In an email sent to the Free Press on Thursday, and in a letter earlier this week to the workers, the airline said that date has now been set -- Dec. 31, 2016.
The email said the collective agreement with Unifor provides for the protection of jobs within the city of employment.
"While some employees may elect to transfer or take a severance package, most are expected to eventually transfer to the Winnipeg airport," it said, "and Air Canada will work with the union on other mitigation measures as necessary."
In the Oct. 14 letter to the workers, which was obtained by the Free Press, Air Canada's director of call centres and customer relations said the company is committed to protecting all of them.
"That is, the closure of the Winnipeg Call Centre will NOT result in any layoffs," Michael Tremblay wrote.
He also said he's aware such a significant change can be cause for concern, "but, as we did when we closed the Calgary Call Centre in 2011, I will commit to assisting you as best I can through the transition," he added.
Leslie Dias, Unifor's national representative for airline employees, said in an interview she's skeptical all of the call-centre workers will be able to find jobs within Air Canada's Winnipeg operations.
"It's just too large a group to be absorbed within our bargaining unit, for sure."
She said while some might opt to transfer to one of Air Canada's other call centres, which are located in Toronto, Montreal and Saint John, N.B., "I would expect the number would be fairly small."
Dias noted the airline has said it will provide an enhanced severance package for employees who opt to take a buyout. But it hasn't elaborated on what would be included in such a package, she added.
Air Canada said it has 599 employees in Winnipeg, including the 76 call-centre workers. The others work primarily at Winnipeg's Richardson International Airport in aircraft maintenance, flight operations and finance and related administrative jobs.
Dias, who is from Manitoba, said the airline has had a call centre in the city for more than 30 years, and that she once worked there. "It's very unfortunate that location is closing," she added.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Air Canada:
Air Canada is Canada's largest domestic and international full-service airline providing scheduled and charter air transportation for passengers and cargo to more than 175 destinations on five continents. Canada's flag carrier is the 15th largest commercial airline in the world and serves 33 million customers annually. Air Canada is a founding member of Star Alliance.
Published: Wednesday, October 22, 2014