Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has revealed that Air Canada employees do not have the option to avail the federal government’s emergency Covid-19 benefits.

The union representing Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge flight attendants, CUPE has expressed disappointment over the airline’s treatment towards its workers.

The union alleged that the thousands of Air Canada’s employees that have or will lose their jobs are pressurised to accept certain terms and conditions that will make them ineligible to access the benefits.

Last week, the carrier revealed that it will reduce its payroll by up to 60%. The conditions being forced upon employees include choosing between a voluntary unpaid leave for six to 24 months, work hours reduction without job share top-up and resignation.

The move averts the employees from availing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) as their action would be considered voluntary.

The carrier also made the option of Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy inaccessible.

CUPE’s Air Canada component president Wesley Lesosky said: “The government and Air Canada are washing their hands of this devastating situation and the only options our members are left with is either quit or get laid off and go on EI.

“This is shameful and disrespectful towards the workers who have built this airline, who faced this epidemic on the front lines and were among the first in Canada to get sick with Covid-19 while doing their jobs.

“We want the federal government to step in and work with the airline so they’re not putting our members out in the cold for no fault of their own. Options like the CEWS are available and must be sought because there is a great deal at stake for our members and their families.”

Earlier this month, Air Canada decided to close all scheduled services to the US after 26 April amid the Covid-19 pandemic.