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Air travel: Trade unions say security guard turnover is high

Toronto –

Unions representing airport security personnel say despite efforts to hire more workers, turnover of new employees is high, with only one in three recent hires still having a job in some areas. He says he hasn’t.

The massive delays and flight cancellations at airports across Canada earlier this year have come under scrutiny from both passengers and politicians.Among other measures to mitigate disruption, the government has pledged to hire more security screeners, hiring more than 2,000 new screeners since April.

Airports are now under pressure to keep the holiday season running smoothly, but high turnover rates and extensive negotiations between security screeners and their employers can make operations even worse. There is a nature.

David Lipton of the National Steelworkers Union, who represents about 2,000 airport security inspectors at 41 airports, said only about a third of the inspectors hired in the past few months remained, with the rest leaving. or leave during the training period or not. Appear in training. Other unions report similar turnover rates among recent recruits.

For example, Lipton said it would take 350 to 380 employees to adequately staff the Ottawa airport, a claim security employer GardaWorld disputed, stating that the goal said to be less than 350. He said.

Canadian airport security screeners work under third-party contractors employed by the Canadian Air Transport Security Agency (CATSA). His three main contractors providing screeners at airports across Canada are Allied Universal, Securitas and GardaWorld.

According to CATSA, the average security personnel turnover rate reported during the quarter ended September 30 was 12.2%. Spokesperson Suzanne Perseo said the agency is ready for the upcoming holiday season.

Both GardaWorld and Allied Universal have said they have sufficient staff, with GardaWorld hiring more during the holidays, but Securitas declined to comment, citing ongoing negotiations.

Almost all security screeners covered by USW are currently in negotiations with employers, Lipton said. Among them are screeners from Quebec and Atlantic Canada who recently turned down offers from Securitas, and workers at the Ottawa airport who are negotiating with Gardaworld, he said.

Lipton said inflation has made current wages for security screenings unattractive, making it difficult to retain workers.

“In times of high inflation, workers need more pay raises to make ends meet,” he said.

But he said working conditions are also pushing people away because fewer workers means longer shifts and more stressful.

Keith Aiken of the International Association of Mechanical Engineers and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), who represents thousands of security screeners in BC and Ontario, including Toronto’s Pearson Airport, declined to provide details. He said the turnover rate for screeners was “very high.” high. ” He attributed his departure at Pearson to scheduling and working conditions.

“Our pre-hire screeners are closely monitored in a stressful environment and this is what makes new workers unwilling to work,” Aiken said in an email.

The Transport Minister’s office acknowledged that CATSA, like other sectors, is currently facing higher levels of turnover.

However, spokeswoman Nadine Ramadan said CATSA had achieved pre-pandemic staffing at major airports and entered the holiday season with reduced wait times. At Pearson, for example, CATSA is 25% above pre-pandemic staffing levels, including turnover.

But the new hires who remain face a backlog in the training process provided by CATSA, says IAMAW’s Aiken.

Aiken said this means many new hires can only perform certain tasks and not perform full screening duties.

CATSA’s Perseo said the screening agency revised its training earlier this year to “accelerate the readiness of screeners while prioritizing security effectiveness.”

This means that some recruits are performing functions other than screening in queues to optimize staffing. She also said CATSA has added more trainers.

COVID-19 has changed the reality for workers, said Katherine Cosgrove of Teamsters Canada, who represents nearly 1,000 GardaWorld screening workers across the country, including Winnipeg and Edmonton.

“The current turnover rate is widespread,” she said of the screening industry, agreeing that about a third of new hires over the past few months are still on the job.

Screeners at Edmonton Airport signed a deal in September that would provide 12% wage increases over two and a half years after voting in favor of going on strike in July.

But despite these gains, Cosgrove believes worker retention will be a persistent problem in the industry.

Lipton said USW screeners may not be able to go on strike if negotiations go south for the holiday season. Work is considered essential.

USW is asking the government to increase funding for CATSA screeners. Employers are citing funding restrictions in third-party contracts as a reason they can’t offer better deals at the negotiating table, they say.

CATSA did not comment on the funding, but said it was confident the contractor could work with the union to reach an agreement.

But Lipton said he needed more.

“I think the big issue here is that CATSA needs to provide adequate funding for screening operations so screening contractors can pay these people decent wages and keep their workforce stable. You can do it,” said Lipton.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on November 10, 2022.

Air travel: Trade unions say security guard turnover is high

Source link Air travel: Trade unions say security guard turnover is high

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