Some Ottawa airport employees to begin job action Monday

Staffing shortages are keeping travellers waiting for hours in security lines at airports across the country, but Monday it will be those performing the screenings voicing their frustrations. 

Security screeners at 42 airports across the country, including the Ottawa International Airport, are ditching the uniform and dressing casually in protest of working conditions and pay rates. 

“There are so many screening officers that have quit, because of low pay and poor working conditions that the airports are severely understaffed,” David Lipton, a United Steelworkers union (USW) representative in Ottawa said. 

USW represents security screeners in most airports across Canada. Lipton says many of their members are being forced to work 16-17 hour days as a result of staffing shortages.  

“In Ottawa, normally there should be 350 screeners; well, we’re only operating about 210 on the floor,” Lipton continued. “Our members are working for hours and hours and hours without breaks. In many cases with forced overtime. Many senior employees are leaving to find other employment as a result.” 

Travellers say the staffing shortages are an issue plaguing the entire industry.

“We had to wait about an hour to take off or pushback because they didn’t have someone who could guide the plane to pushback,” Laura Pichette said. 

Pichette and her husband just returned from a 12-day trip to Belgium, what was intended to be a relaxing vacation, quickly became a 19-day fiasco after their luggage went missing for nearly three weeks. 

 “We waited and we waited and we waited and, of course, the luggage did not show up,” Pichette said. 

It wasn’t until more than a week after Pichette returned to Ottawa that her luggage was finally delivered to her home. 

“The interesting thing is we were not alone, there were about eight or 10 other passengers in the same situation,” she added. 

The experience is one in a long line of frustrations for air passengers that have been mounting over the past several months. 

“There’s been more and more pronounced delays, one to two hours just to get through security,” Hunter Dickson, who was travelling from Phoenix said. 

Lipton says the job action is not expected to create any additional delays at airports, and it won’t be occurring in Toronto, Vancouver, or Calgary where staff are under a different union. 

Still, some travellers say they’re avoiding the airport until the staffing shortages are resolved. 

“What I would say as a vacation consultant is don’t go now. I mean, this will rectify itself, but it’s going to take time,” Pichette said.

The United Steelworkers union says the Casual Monday job action by security screeners will not disrupt service at the airport.

View original article here Source