IAM press briefing from the Bloc Québécois and the NDP
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
For immediate release
Ottawa, ON – The Bloc Québécois, the New Democratic Party and the Machinists Union (the IAM) are calling on the federal government to put an end to the injustices and abuses suffered by workers at Canadian airports.
The current conflict, at Montréal-Trudeau and Mirabel airports, involving a hundred members of IAM Local Lodge 2301 and Swissport Fueling is a good example of the deterioration of working conditions in the air transport sector.
“The behavior of Swissport Fueling, once again shows that Canadian laws are on the side of employers. Turning a blind eye to what workers suffer is unacceptable. Contract-Flipping must stop,” said Stan Pickthall, Canadian General Vice-President of the IAM.
When Swissport won the aircraft fuelling contract in 2016, workers with 25 years of experience were faced with an unfair choice: change jobs or apply for the same job by accepting a drastic decline in their working conditions: the hourly wage an experienced IAM refueling agent received before Swissport won the contract was $24 an hour.After taking over the contract, Swissport offered a meager $16 an hour. All this was for performing the same tasks, in the same place, with the same responsibilities, the same schedules and the same equipment!
“The situation experienced by workers at Montreal and Mirabel airports is unacceptable. Experienced workers do not have to suffer from salary cuts because the costs have been minimized by calling on the lowest bidder, “said Louise Chabot, MP for Thérèse-de-Blainville and spokesperson for the Bloc Québécois in terms of jobs, development, manpower and work.
“It’s simple: we ask that workers do not have to pay when there is a change of supplier. These people work hard and deserve to be recognized for their experience. Unfortunately, the Liberal government does not seem to want to respect their rights. I would like to hear Minister Garneau explain why,” added Alexandre Boulerice, Deputy Leader of the NDP and Member of Parliament for Rosemont – La Petite Patrie. “To resolve this problem, there is an urgent need to better regulate Contract-Flipping”.
The IAM, the Bloc Québecois and the NDP believe there should be a transfer of workers’ rights and the collective agreement when passing from one employer to another. This is called “successor rights” and bidders should take this into account when bidding on a tender. Workers should be able to maintain their basic conditions and not start from scratch in their negotiations.
No equity without anti-scab measures
After seeing their new employer ransack their working conditions, Swissport workers now find themselves adversely affected in their negotiations by the absence of anti-scab measures. On strike since December 31, the employer has made no offer to the union. Taking advantage of the fact that it can use strike-breakers, Swissport has clearly seen no point in reaching a settlement.
During the last mandate of the Trudeau government, the IAM increased lobbying efforts and and meetings with the federal government to solve these problems. During the last the Labour Code reform, led by your colleague Patty Hajdu, our union submitted a series of recommendations to put an end to unfair practices. Unfortunately, nothing has been done.
“The deterioration in labor relations at Canadian airports will continue until Minister Tassi (Labour) and Minister Garneau (Transport) intervene. This is why we are asking to work with the Trudeau government as well as all of the elected members of the House of Commons to correct the situation,” concluded Guillaume Valois, spokesperson for IAM.
Representing 22,000 workers at various Canadian airports, the IAM is the largest air transportation union in Canada.
For more information:
Guillaume Valois, IAM Quebec communications
g.valois @ aimta712, org, 514-966-0915
Joanie Riopel, Press Secretary, Bloc Québécois
Sarah Andrews, NDP Press Secretary