Lana Payne, national president of Canadian trade union Unifor, has written a letter to Minister of Transportation Omar Alghabra stressing the root causes of problems at Canadian airports, as well as possible fixes.
For months, airports around the nation have been cracking under pressure after being unprepared for high flyer traffic. There’s a labour shortage that has been blamed for lost luggage, delays, cancellations, long queues and other mismanagement issues.
Payne was elected president of the union on August 10 this year — the first woman to assume the role. The letter about the “grave situation” was sent just weeks later on September 1.
Unifor National President @Lanampayne wrote to Minister @OmarAlghabra today to offer clear solutions to the issues plaguing Canada’s airports with cancellations and delays.https://t.co/eACK16sgXs#Unifor #cdnpoli
— Unifor (@UniforTheUnion) September 1, 2022
“Aviation workers are listening intently to government, and so far the minister has not shared an accurate description of the problem or common sense solutions,” she writes.
“Aviation employers have cut jobs and continue to drive down wages in the industry, and it’s up to the federal government to change the rules to protect workers and travellers.”
Unifor represents around 315,000 workers across Canada and more than 16,000 in the aviation industry alone.
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Payne offered to provide the government assistance in coming up with solutions, urging the feds to create rules and guidelines for airlines, airports, traffic control organization and support entities that would result in happier workers and satisfied travellers.
The fixes Payne laid out include paying workers a living wage and providing proper employee training. She also pointed out how employers abuse Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program, under which they hire migrant workers for low wages and unacceptable working conditions. As a solution, Payne suggested introducing penalties.
“It is clear to Unifor members that neither government nor employers understand the root of the problem and as such, are not solving it,” she concluded.