Toronto, July 17 2017 – Baggage handling company Swissport hired close to 250 untrained temporary workers at Pearson International Airport. Teamsters Local Union 419, which represents regular baggage handling workers, is concerned that this may have compromised safety at the airport.
To safely work in sensitive areas of the airport, baggage handling workers normally require 3 to 4 weeks of training. The temp workers only received 3 to 4 days.
“The untrained temporary workers have already been involved in accidents and injuries,” explained Harjinder Badial, Vice-President at Local Union 419. “This is more serious than lost luggage.”
In one instance, temporary workers left a ladder leaning against a parked plane, damaging the aircraft. In another instance, baggage destined for a plane was left unattended inside the terminal as the aircraft departed.
The union filed a formal complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board.
The use of untrained temporary workers is likely intended to put pressure on the union. Both sides are currently negotiating a new collective agreement for workers. Contract talks are set to resume on Friday, July 21.
“We’re concerned that Swissport is willing to sacrifice airport safety to gain an upper hand at the bargaining table,” explained Badial. “Despite the company’s attitude, we remain committed to negotiating in fairness and good faith.”
Swissport employs close to 700 members of Teamsters Local Union 419. They perform tasks such as towing planes, cabin cleaning, flight operations and cargo and baggage handling. The current set of negotiations covers all 700 workers.
Teamsters represent 125,000 members in Canada in all industries. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.
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