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WestJet strike will continue until there's a deal, union says, as flight cancellation tally passes 830

A strike by WestJet Airlines' mechanics that has led to hundreds of cancelled flights over the Canada Day long weekend will continue until a deal is reached, the union's president told Reuters on Sunday.

Bret Oestreich, president of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), said the two sides will reconvene with a mediator on Sunday. The union represents about 680 workers at WestJet, including aircraft maintenance engineers, who went on strike Friday after 97 per cent of members rejected a pay deal reached in May.

In an emailed update to CBC News Sunday afternoon, WestJet said 832 flights had been cancelled so far, including 78 flights scheduled for Monday, July 1, and three flights scheduled for Tuesday, July 2.

«All we want to do is to go back to the table,» said Oestreich. «The strike will be in effect until we get an agreement.»

He said the two sides are separated by a first-year economic difference of approximately seven per cent, or less than $8 million on a roughly four-year contract.

77% of Sunday's trips cancelled: flight tracker

As of Sunday morning, the tracking service FlightAware says 77 per cent of the day's trips had been called off, with WestJet topping the global list for cancellations among major airlines Saturday and Sunday.

The workers, whose daily inspections and repairs are essential to airline operations, walked off the job despite a directive for binding arbitration from the federal labour minister.

Both the airline and AMFA have accused the other side of refusing to negotiate in good faith.

WestJet Airlines president Diederik Pen has stressed what he calls the «continued reckless actions» of a union that was making «blatant efforts» to disrupt Canadians' travel plans, while the union claimed

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