New Cuts to Airport Security Screeners Will Compromise Passenger Safety, Wait Times

Front-line security screeners will get pink slips while high-paid management positions will be increasing

MONTREAL and HALIFAX, May 14, 2012 /CNW/ - The elimination of hundreds of security screeners at airports throughout Quebec and Atlantic Canada will compromise passenger safety and increase wait times for travellers.

"Airport security screeners already face significant demands and challenges in protecting passenger safety and maintaining customer service," says Ken Neumann, National Director for Canada for the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

"You cannot eliminate hundreds of these front-line security staff without compromising these vital services," Neumann says.

The USW represents security screeners who monitor X-ray scanners and metal detectors at airports across Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Screeners at these airports are employed by Securitas Transport Aviation Security Ltd., which provides services under contract with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), a federal government agency.

"We are calling on the federal government and CATSA to immediately intervene in this urgent matter and stop these potentially harmful cuts," Neumann says.

The USW has been informed by Securitas that the company will be cutting the equivalent of about 130 full-time positions at airports in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Given that many security screeners are employed on a part-time basis, the cutbacks could translate into more than 250 lost jobs, the USW estimates.

"Security screeners' hours will be cut and there will be fewer people doing the job," notes Michel Courcy, a USW representative for screeners at Quebec airports. "We believe it is an inescapable reality that these cuts, if implemented, will compromise safety and passenger waiting times."

While hundreds of airport security screeners face layoffs - and many others face demotion - the USW has learned that Securitas plans to hire dozens of high-paid managers, says Lawrence McKay, the USW's area coordinator in Atlantic Canada.

"This is an outrage and a slap in the face to passengers who pay significant fees for security screening at these airports," McKay says.

"It is inexcusable that CATSA and the federal government are accepting more cuts to front-line security screening while at the same time allowing an increase in high-paid management positions."

Airport screeners earn as little as $15.57 an hour.

For further information:

Contacts:
Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, 416-544-5990
Michel Courcy, USW Staff Representative, Quebec, 450-656-1113, 514-793-6373 (c), mcourcy@metallos.ca
Lawrence McKay, USW Area Coordinator, Atlantic Canada, 506-857-0999, 506-874-9240 (c), lmckay@usw.ca
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca