700 Baggage Handlers at Pearson Airport on Strike After Rejecting Final Offer

700 Baggage Handlers at Pearson Airport on Strike After Rejecting Final Offer

Hundreds of baggage handlers at Pearson International Airport are now on strike after rejecting the latest offer from their employer.

Teamsters Local 419 officially walked off the job just after 10 p.m. after about 95 per cent of the membership voted to reject the contract offer.

The workers, which include 700 baggage and cargo handlers and cabin cleaners, are all employees of Swissport. The company is contracted to service 30 of the 74 airlines at Pearson.

Workers who took to the picket lines immediately after the vote told CP24 they rejected the offer because they were tired of being "disrespected."

“There is a lot of monetary and non-monetary issues and quite frankly our members have been mistreated, they have been disrespected,” Teamsters Local 419 Vice President Harjinder Badial said.

Benefits was a big sticking point in the contract as workers who work less hours would stand to lose them.

The union also fiercely rejected Swissport’s decision to hire 250 temporary workers since May. “On Monday we asked what the plan is with these agency workers and the company told us that once we have an agreement these guys are gone. That’s a clear signal to us that these guys are just here to replace our jobs,” “Badial said earlier in the day.

Delays to passengers

Passengers had to face major slowdowns at Pearson late Thursday night as many of the baggage handling duties were left unattended after the strike vote.

Workers warned tomorrow morning would be worse because of the usual Friday flight rush.

The Greater Toronto Ariports Authority has previously said that they do have a “contingency plan” in place in the event of a labour disruption.

Badial said ground workers would work hard to minimize the disruption to passengers travelling through Pearson and that the union was open to sitting back down at the table should a new offer be presented.

 

Chris Fox and Sandie Benitah, CP24.com

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