Thursday January 16, 2020
Montreal, QC – On strike since 31 December, 2019, IAM Local 2301 has brought about a broad coalition of labour leaders and political parties in the Montreal area, and across Canada. Leaders from various sectors spoke in strong terms about the danger to Québec workers, as well as airport workers across the country.
Speakers representing the IAM, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), the United Steelworkers (USW), the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ), the Quebec Machinists Council (QMC), the Bloc Québecois (BQ) and a written statement from the New Democratic Party (NDP) all addressed the rally-goers and promised a sustained fight to resolve issues surround the strike.
Among the many serious issues affecting the members of IAM Local 2301 are a severe cut to wages, health and safety and high staff turnover – all of these related to the widely-prevalent, and widely abused practice of Contract-Flipping. Contract-Flipping involves restarting a tendering process to find a lower bidder to lower costs and increase profits. In a Contract-Flip, workers lose their jobs, seniority and pension plans. If they want to get their job back, it is usually with significant setbacks in their working and living conditions. And then they have to reapply for the very jobs they held!
Addressing the rally, Stan Pickthall, Canadian General Vice-President of the IAM said, “The battle waged at Montreal-Trudeau Airport by our members from Local 2301 is also that of all Canadian airport workers. And we are ready to bring the fight to the House of Commons so that Contract-Flipping is no longer used to destroy the achievements of thousands of workers in Canada. This is a flashpoint in the fight, and we have taken it on!”
Speakers at the rally had much to say about the treatment of workers, as well as the passive role of the federal government, not to mention the purely profit-driven motives of employers which disregard the well-being of workers.
The FTQ, Quebec’s labour umbrella body has been supportive of the IAM’s fight all along. “Among other things, it is because there is no anti-scab law in the Canada Labour Code that this conflict continues. Ottawa must act and put an end to this injustice that allows Swissport and other companies under federal jurisdiction to hire “scabs” without any shame,” said FTQ President Daniel Boyer. Other leaders weighed also in.
- “It is time to come together to change what allows Canadian airport employers to take advantage of the law to crush and disrespect workers. Enough is enough.” – Larry Rousseau, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress
- “We are announcing a donation of $ 5,000 to the local representing the workers of Swissport and we are going to invite our steelworker locals to show solidarity.” – Alain Croteau Quebec Director of the United Steelworkers.
- “The situation experienced by workers at Montreal and Mirabel airports is unacceptable. Experienced workers do not have to suffer cut wages because costs have been kept to a minimum by using the lowest bidder. Quebec workers should all enjoy the same rights and protections. In the meantime, the Trudeau government must take the situation seriously and agree to amend the Canada Labour Code so that collective agreements and union certifications are maintained following a transfer of contract. It must also quickly pass legislation to ban the use of scabs.” – Louise Chabot, MP for Thérèse-de-Blainville and spokesperson for the Bloc Québécois in the areas of Jobs, Development, Labour and Work.
- “Unfortunately, the Liberal government does not seem to be on the side of workers. Minister Garneau and Minister Tassi prefer silence rather than respecting your rights. I want to assure you that I will continue to fight for you in Ottawa and put pressure on the government to respect your rights and improve your working conditions.” – Alexandre Boulerice, MP for Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie and Deputy Leader of the NDP said in a written statement
- “No-one at the IAM, the CLC or the FTQ is going to let our airports become a “cheap labour” factory. We are ready to fight.” – Éric Rancourt, president of the Quebec Machinists Council, which brings together all IAM members in Quebec.
On strike since December 31, 2019, the IAM members are demanding, in particular, better wages and an improvement in their group insurance coverage. Contract-flipping
Workers at Swissport Canada Inc., members of IAM Local 2301, are aircraft supply workers, dispatchers, fuel storage maintenance workers and mechanics. Their collective agreement expired in August 2019 and they have been trying to reach an agreement with their employer since 23 May, 2019.
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