CAUGHT ON VIDEO: Pearson Airport Baggage Handlers and Ground Crew on Strike
If you plan on traveling in or out of Pearson Airport, your flight could be affected by a labour strike.
On Thursday, July 27 at 9:30 p.m., over 700 workers employed by Swissport at Pearson walked off the job.
The workers handle baggage and cargo, tow planes, clean cabins and perform flight operations tasks for over 30 airlines, including Transat, Sunwing, Cathay Pacific, KLM, Lufthansa, Lot Polish, Air France, British Airways, Etihad, Philippine, Turkish, Egypt Air, Jet, Cubana, Pakistan, China Eastern, Eva, Saudia, Hainan, Azores, Aer Lingus, TAP, Brussels, Alitalia, Austrian, El Al, WOW and Avianca.
“We tried our best to reach an acceptable agreement with the company. Swissport just wasn’t interested,” said Harjinder Badial, vice-president of Teamsters Local Union 419, which represents Swissport staff, in a statement.
Badial added that he regrets that passengers might have to deal with lost luggage, significant delays and flight cancellations at Canada’s busiest airport.
“We spent weeks trying to avoid getting to this point. Sadly, the company is insisting on forcing a bad deal on workers.”
The union representing the workers says its grievances include Swissport’s attempts to impose a three-year wage freeze on some workers. The union also said the company wants staff to work a minimum of 30 hours a week to qualify for full benefits—something they say is unfair given workers’ “volatile weekly schedules.”
Swissport workers have also taken issue with under-trained temporary workers who they say are posing a safety hazard. The union is arguing that under-trained workers were also brought on to keep operations running in the event of a strike.
“We’re shocked at how Swissport is willing to sacrifice airport safety and jeopardize travel plans to gain an upper hand at the bargaining table,” said Badial. “We have no idea how Pearson will be able to operate safely and normally with this crew.”
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) is warning passengers that the dispute could affect their flights. The GTAA is advising travelers to check your flight status by contacting their airline, visiting the airports’ Flight Search page, or tracking their flight by downloading the Toronto Pearson app.
The last collective agreement expired on July 23, 2017
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.