With the launch of the new uniform, many of you have written to us with concerns. We would like to stress that such problems are normal during a large launch, and that most carriers make many changes to their uniform pieces following initial roll-out. This is a complicated process, since it requires taking into account feedback from employees in multiple departments who don’t always share the same concerns because of different work environments.
Behind the scenes, good work continues with the company and supplier to resolve the many things that have come up. We have put together this bulletin to inform you of where we’re at regarding some of the most common things raised with us over the past few weeks.
Your Component Uniform/Luggage and Occupational Health and Safety Committees
It might feel good to vent there, but those of us working full time to resolve your issues just can’t monitor the various social media forums 24/7. Don’t assume that because you’ve posted something we know about it. If you post something, take the extra 2 seconds to send it to us in an email as well.
Remember that Yammer is not an official reporting channel for health and safety issues (see below), and that we also cannot consistently monitor this internal company network for comments.
Please keep in mind that privacy cannot be guaranteed on any form of social media. If in doubt, send an email and we will ensure that your comments are noted and forwarded to the appropriate party.
How to report, and who to report to:
We need to communicate with you, the members, to be able to properly represent you. But the company also needs to hear your comments, struggles, and suggestions as well. Remember to include as much detail as possible in your reports, including photographs if possible, and to copy the Union (see contacts HERE) when writing to the company.
General Concerns & Comments:
Company (general queries, warranty, tailoring, repairs etc.): Claudia.firstname.lastname@example.org
Health and Safety Related Concerns:
Same as above PLUS file a Health and Safety Complaint (concern form).
IMPORTANT!: Yammer is not an official reporting channel for Health and Safety issues. Concerns and responses on Yammer may not get integrated into the H&S tracking systems used by the company and the health and safety committees. Please use one of the following methods to report:
- Complete an ACF32 Health and Safety Concern Form or send an email to your manager, copying the Union. We will be happy to put you in touch with your manager (see Union contacts HERE).
- file an Hazard eReport in SIMS or on the iPad if you are an in-charge. (ACAeronet>Safety>Submit a Report/SIMS). We strongly suggest speaking to your Union H&S rep or manager to ensure that your e-report is filed correctly.
Care for the new Uniform:
For your convenience, here is the link to the Union’s garment care bulletin.
Men’s shirt: In order to soften the fabric, wash the shirt with a combination of vinegar and OxiClean or baking soda.
Wool Fabric: As with any new garment, the fabric may be stiffer prior to a cleaning. We have found that following a dry-cleaning and/or Dryel cycle the fabric is much softer.
Commonly Reported Issues Q&A:
Q: When will the winter parka be available?
A: As reported in company communication, the winter parka is now available for sizing at Unisync boutiques and can be ordered via the website for winter 2018/2019. Please note that orders should be placed as soon as possible in order to ensure sufficient stock for a fall delivery. Currently, the company is placing the cost of the winter parka at a 50/50 split.
Q: Why is the fabric for our uniform wool, and can’t it have stretch added? Is it me or is it hotter too?
A: For safety and health reasons the Union has always advocated for 100% wool for the core uniform components since they are what protects us in the event of a fire. This is because wool is naturally flame retardant, as demonstrated by its higher scores in textile flammability and heat drip tests compared to synthetics. The Union’s position stems directly from regulatory guidance, based on research from a variety of aviation safety authorities.
Previous uniforms have exhibited a lack of give, and great lengths were taken by all involved in the uniform project to provide a fabric which is 100% wool, but also incorporates more give during movements. The stretch in a fabric doesn’t just come from the material, but also the weave. Based on the first wear-test, the fabric was replaced to include a 4-way weave which allows for a lower thread count and more space between the fibers, without compromising strength or look. In a nutshell, it’s a more sophisticated fabric which is lighter, more breathable and slightly more flexible. This is why our focus on fixing heat issues has focused more on the shirts and jacket/vest linings.
The company is exploring ways to lighten some uniform components, and we have requested whether the linings on the garments can be further changed to accomplish this.
Q: The vest is extremely hot, and it’s not even summer yet. What is being done about this newly mandatory item?
A: Some elements of the vest were re-designed as a result of comments during the wear tests. However, as a result of the outpour of reports about overheating, we are encouraging work to further lighten it. Our health and safety must come first and foremost if we are to provide quality service to our customers, and we continue to request that this be made an optional item.
As we enter the summer months, should you need to cool off, remember that company procedures include as mitigation for excessive heat to remove the jacket, in addition to taking cooling off/water breaks. Furthermore, the Aviation Occupational Health and Safety Regulations state that the workplace must be maintained between 18 and 29 degrees Celsius, if practicable. The regulator has stated that it is reasonable to expect cooling equipment to be available to maintain proper cabin temperature.
Q: Is there a warranty, and what’s the process to get it fixed or exchanged?
A: Management has advised that any warranty, repair, or tailoring issues should continue to be addressed to Claudia.email@example.com , who will arrange for replacements and/or repairs. It will assist if you can provide the garment type, size, and length if applicable (ex. Short, regular, tall), along with a brief description of the problem and a photo if possible.
Some members have reported seam splitting at the sides of the dress. In many cases, this has actually been the side pockets opening up. The pockets are stitched shut for shipping, as with blazers.
Q: My dress just doesn’t fit. What is being done about this?
A: Almost two years ago, the Union suggested that the company adopt a wrap or other style of dress since it would be most versatile when it comes to our many shapes, sizes, and heights. The Union also insisted that the new dress should be 100% wool for health and safety reasons and allow greater movement, in order to bring this item in line with the rest of the uniform lineup. For years, the Union had been upset that such a popular item was made of a fabric that was demonstrably less tolerant to heat.
The wool fabric has greater give than previous fabrics, but this hasn’t been enough to offset the mobility restrictions caused by the selection of a pencil cut. The rear slit was designed to provide much desired coverage during bending/crouching movements. However, the new slit lining had the unintended consequence of preventing tailors from adjusting it. This has left some members with a shorter slit, further reducing mobility.
The Union’s committees have discussed solutions with the company including adding stretch to the fabric, and design changes to increase arm movement and allow for easier crouching/kneeling.
Q: The shirt is too hot, what is being done?
A: Since the wool fabric is more breathable, and physically lighter than the old uniform, our focus to solve reports of overheating is on the linings of the jacket/vest, for which we have suggested modifications, and the shirt fabric. While the women’s shirts were re-designed with lighter fabric as a result of comments in the first wear-test, the men’s shirts use a slightly heavier fabric which is easier to care for but appears to be causing discomfort. Alternatives have been proposed to the committees, and we continue to work with the company to fix this, with a preference for natural fibres, light weight and breathable weave.
Q: My neck is irritated by the men’s shirt. What is being done about this?
A: Since the new uniform has white shirts, a common concern made by various groups and testers was that the collars will get yellowed over time. To prevent this, a strip of soft grey fabric was stitched inside the collar on the men’s shirts. Due to a fabric and design change based on wear-test results, it wasn’t possible to line the women’s blouse collar.
The irritation being widely reported has come as a surprise, since it was not noticed during wear tests. We believe it has to do with the stitching and/or edge of the grey band, similar to the irritation one would experience from a scratchy garment tag. The thread used in the production shirts appears different from what was used in the wear test. Because of this, we did not experience these problems ourselves until the uniform launch. This has been raised with the company.
Some people seem to be experiencing greater discomfort than others. We recommend speaking to your manager if you feel the need to revert to the blue uniform while this issue is being addressed. You may also want to consider treating your shirt to a few washes with vinegar and OxiClean or baking soda, which has been shown to significantly improve the feel.
Q: I’m allergic to wool or silk, how do I get alternative uniform pieces?
A: The main components of this uniform are 100% wool, and our scarves and ties are 100% silk. As with previous uniforms, options are available. Should you suffer from an allergy, you will need to obtain a medical certificate attesting to this and follow up with Claudia.firstname.lastname@example.org who will make arrangements, including explaining any follow-up requirements.
Q: My uniform doesn’t fit. I’m having trouble moving in it. I’m embarrassed and feel that the message is that I should fit the uniform, not the other way around! What should I do?
A: The Union consistently heard that employees were tired of baggy uniforms and wanted something more modern and stylish. We also were clearly told that a big want was to have tailoring included. After the first wear-test, our committees conveyed to the company that while more stylish, we do work in these uniforms and a greater emphasis needed to be placed on their functionality, particularly the women’s pieces. From the very beginning, the health and safety committee has stressed range of movement as essential to the success of this project.
Many changes were made after the first wear test to provide greater mobility, including an overhaul of the shoulder joints on the blazers, and an overall redesign of the women’s blouse and blazer. In addition, some significant changes were made to the vest and dress. Despite this, some of these items have continued to cause difficulties for you onboard, and we have taken your concerns and comments to the company and are working with them to implement changes based on your feedback.
The new uniform is intended to be inclusive of persons of various shapes, sizes and heights. Off-the-rack sizing cannot accomplish this effectively without some help, therefore the Union insisted that the company provide full-tailoring, up-to and including made-to-measure or custom items if necessary. We continue to stress the importance of maintaining this feature in order to support this uniform program, both from anaesthetic, safety, and comfort standpoint, and are pleased to have received confirmation that tailoring will continue to be offered through the current supplier for the 2018 allotment (this year’s allotment). The uniform committee remains in touch with the company regarding plans for the tailoring program for the 2019 allotment year onwards, based on feedback.
If you are experiencing problems with the uniform fit, we strongly suggest scheduling an appointment at a Unisync boutique to try alternate sizes, and to see if further tailoring should be offered above and beyond basic alterations. Alterations can be approved by contacting Claudia.email@example.com .
Q: I’m an in-charge and no one knows! It’s very frustrating for everyone. What is being done?
A: We have raised this a number of times over the past year, particularly since the uniform standard allows for wings not to be worn. The Union continues to suggest that a contrasting coloured tie/scarf be devised for in-charges.
Q: What’s with the scarf?
A: The Union’s committees have been flooded with strong comments regarding the women’s dress scarf. Based on member feedback, the Union originally suggested that the company do away with a women’s scarf entirely and find a new, more modern option to separate us from the competition. Furthermore, from a health and safety aspect, we requested that only quick-release options be provided for neck adornments – male or female.
Between that request, and the company’s continued desire for a scarf with a standard look, the result was the loop scarf with hidden quick-release clip. This clip was originally a snap, which we identified as possibly unsafe, leading to the use of the same clip as exists for the RAIC lanyard which we have had for many years.
Q: I prefer a longer scarf, is that an option? The short scarf rolls around my neck all day.
A: As mentioned in company communication, a longer length scarf will be made available. Also, the rolling movement can be stopped by twisting the scarf a few times prior to clipping it on.
Q: The scarf clip keeps getting caught in my hair. Why is there extra fabric in the back?
A: For safety purposes, and to prevent the clip from getting caught in hair, extra material is provided to cover it during use. This fabric should be slid back over the clip once it is done up. To ensure the clip is covered, we suggest clipping the scarf on the front facing a mirror, and then positioning it properly.
Q: Will we be getting new sleepwear for long-haul flights?
A: The company advised that it was prioritizing the main uniform first and would review the onboard sleepwear afterwards. The uniform committee has compiled results from the sleepwear survey and has forwarded the results to the company in order to begin work with the company on this project next month. The sleepwear survey results can be viewed HERE.
Q: I am worried that my luggage will be stolen by a passenger and do not feel that the handle wrap is sufficient to avoid this. What’s being done?
A: Based on the Union’s luggage survey, the membership presented us with the complicated task of not making our luggage a target, while ensuring there was an identifiable element to prevent passengers from accidentally taking our bags. Adding to this was a clear request for more secure luggage, and that we be able to use our crew luggage for personal travel, something that has always technically been forbidden due to identifiable components.
It was widely acknowledged that the flashy red highlights on our old bags made them a target, and in keeping with overall security concerns, a choice was made to de-identify the bags. To compensate, the Union suggested that handle wraps be provided since they could be placed in the areas most likely to be seen by a passenger grabbing the bag and are removable for personal travel.
Based on feedback received, we will be exploring mutually-agreeable options for ways of further identifying crew bags as such, should employees wish to do so. In the meantime, we encourage you to print your name on the handle wraps as per company instructions, in order to prevent accidental mix-ups with other crew members.
Q: The handle height is too high on the luggage.
A: Based on strong feedback in the luggage survey, the Union requested that the handle be fully adjustable. Of the vendors vying for the contract, only Samsonite was willing and/or able to accommodate this request. The 21” roller has 8 different height options and the spinner tote has 4, notable by the holes on the telescopic poles.
Q: The luggage is smaller. Where do I put my shopping?
A: The purpose of our main crew roller is not for shopping, plain and simple. As a health and safety committee, our primary concern was that the high injury rate due to heavy and/or oversized luggage went down with the new allotment. This was further mandated by Transport Canada in June 2017, and also strongly requested by the membership in the Union luggage survey. A slimmer tote bag was also required due to the inclusion of spinner luggage in this allotment, which was a very big part of the debate as to whether this type of wheel should be included. Therefore, we have returned to a regular-sized luggage that maxes out the carry-on baggage specifications for the 21”roller, and a slimmer shoulder tote.
For sanitary, but also practicability reasons, the much larger lunchbox has been given a removable liner. This means that it can double as extra storage should you want to pack that extra set of runners and gym clothes for your layover, or pick up something special. Given its substantial size, this should still allow for some snacks and meal items to be brought along as well.
At our request, based on packing tests including a 356 manual, galley shoes, and toiletry bag, the mid-section of the tote bag was widened by an extra half inch. Unfortunately, due to timelines your Union reps were not able to test the revised bag prior to roll-out, nor were we able to test it with the uniform sweater, apron or galley gloves. Based on your feedback, we have suggested that the back section of the shoulder-tote be widened by 1” in future production runs in order to accommodate these items. The Union also continues to work with the company on its paperless project, which should eventually increase the space available for other items.
Q: The luggage is heavy to pull with the lunchbox on top.
A: A huge request of the membership was to get a much larger lunch-box, similar to that used by crews at other carriers. While we were successful in obtaining this much desired item, the revised version did not arrive in time for Union reps to test it prior to the launch. It seems it may have created some unintended problems including heaviness when pulling the large roller. We suggest packing heavier items as close as possible to the bottom of the 21” roller and tote bag, in order to improve the balance of the luggage set while pulling.
Q: My tote bag drags when I’m walking with the luggage and pulls it over when it is left standing.
A: We have heard, and also experienced this issue with the shoulder tote when attached to the 21” roller. The dragging has been reported to cause wear to the bottom of the bag, and the strap seems to loosen during use further aggravating this problem.
As a solution, we have suggested that the design be revised to include rubber studs on the bottom of the tote in the corners. This would help prevent premature wear, and also add some stability and height to prevent it from pulling the roller over when left standing. As a more immediate measure, we have suggested that Samsonite review the strap to see if it is possible to get one which does not loosen up during use. The committees will also request that the Plastic feet on the 21” roller be lengthened slightly in future production runs.
Q: The wheels on my luggage are different than what I am used to.
A: The Samsonite wheels are a departure from the “roller-blade” style ones we’re used to. The double half-moon Samsonite wheels come from years of trial and improvement at other carriers including Transat. We made sure to reach out to our brothers and sisters there to get their opinion on the luggage as part of the selection process. These are similar to the wheels on the luggage that the Union originally suggested to the company because they have a much simpler design.
The bearings in roller-blade style wheels allow them to move really nicely when brand new, but when they rust from use in wet and salty conditions they become very difficult to move, and then they break completely. This starts with the grinding/grating noise we’re all familiar with, and then eventually total failure happens. This has been a recurring issue for our members, and when it occurs there is no option but to carry the luggage around by the side handle since the wheel is completely destroyed.
These new wheels should avoid the rust issues, and their small size makes it much more practical to carry spares around in case of breakage. The smaller size and simpler design may provide a slightly stiffer roll compared to a brand new “rollerblade” style wheel.
Q: I have removed the wheels on my luggage and noticed grease, should I remove it?
A: NO. We have been informed by some members that they have stripped the grease off of the wheel pins in an effort to make them spin easier. We are reaching out to the company for clarification but can only assume that the grease is there to prevent wear and corrosion.