Montreal - On Jan. 8, 600 security screeners at Montreal's Dorval airport unanimously rejected the latest contract offer from their employer, Securitas. At the same time, the members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union reaffirmed a strike mandate for their negotiating committee that can be exercised when deemed appropriate.
"We are still hoping to negotiate and reach an agreement without disrupting service at the airport. But the screeners are ready to strike if need be," says USW staff representative Michel Courcy.
Since October, screeners have taken various steps to be highlight the lack of progress in negotiations, including substituting their uniforms with camouflage pants, pyjamas or union caps.
Wage rates have been one of the sticking points in the negotiations. In fact, Montreal screening officers earn less than their counterparts at airports in Québec and Toronto. The Montreal screeners are demanding wage parity with their Toronto counterparts who recently reached a collective agreement.
"The message is clear, Montreal screening officers will not accept to be treated as second-class workers," says Courcy. "Their work is crucial in ensuring the safety of air transportation. They have a high level of responsibility and this should be better reflected in their salary."
Other unresolved issues include the employer's refusal to date to provide suitable lunchrooms for workers.
"We aren't able to get decent eating areas," says Marc Hennessey, president of the union's grievance committee. "A few screeners have reached the point where they have to eat their lunch leaning on their work equipment because there is no room in the cafeteria. And the employer is refusing to compensate us for the breaks we miss when our workload is too high."
The Canadian Industrial Relations Board should decide soon which activities will need to be maintained in the event of a strike, so that essential services will be maintained. Once this decision is handed down, workers will be free to consider strike action.
The United Steelworkers, affiliated with the FTQ, is the largest private sector union in Quebec. They represent over 60,000 workers in all economic sectors (mines, steel, industrial manufacturing, security, hospitality, food, trucking, taxi...).
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Source: United Steelworkers (FTQ)
Contact: Clairandrée Cauchy, USW Communications, 514-774-4001, firstname.lastname@example.org.