Leading up to March break and the busy summer travel season, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) decision to cap flights and the number of travellers fails both passengers and airport workers, says Unifor.
“The GTAA is punishing the traveling public by limiting flights and services as a band-aid solution to airport congestion, instead of fixing the problem by implementing common sense solutions to improve job quality and hire needed workers,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne.
“We need to end the chaos in airports – but a travel cap merely limits supply instead of meeting the demand. At the core of things, this is a failure to keep the aviation industry attractive to workers.”
Unifor has repeatedly called on the aviation industry to change its failing workforce strategies by ending the practice of contract flipping and paying airport workers a living wage.
The GTAA first announced the caps in August 2022 as a stop gap measure to limit baggage handling and security screening needs during peak times.
“Seeing that the plan hasn’t evolved since first announced last summer, shows just how little effort government and industry are putting into solving the underlying problems.” said Payne. “These measures just contribute to angry and frustrated travelers. Putting on a cap today isn’t relieving the pressure for air travel tomorrow.”
Unifor has provided recommendations to airlines, airports, and the federal government consistently over the years. The problems facing the industry are not new but were exacerbated by decisions made during the pandemic to treat the workforce as disposable instead of with respect for the work they do.
The union is asking the federal government to require a minimum living wage at Canada’s airports, which would be $23.15 at Toronto Pearson, end the worst effects of contract flipping by implementing full successor rights, limit the number of ground handling companies that can operate at the airport and develop a solution to the escalating problem of on-the job-harassment.
Unifor also maintains that employers including in air traffic control have been relying on extensive and unfilled overtime to avoid hiring, putting higher demands on the remaining controllers.
“The effects of operating with no resilience in the system have resulted in chaos and now a limit on supply,” said Payne. “Surely, the industry can do better.”
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad and strives to create progressive change for a better future.