Conservative Cuts Compromise Airport Security: Steelworkers

TORONTO, May 26, 2011 /CNW/ - Cutting funding and jobs in Canadian airport screening services goes completely against the Harper government's stated priority on national security, says Ken Neumann, national director of the United Steelworkers (USW).

"This is no time to cut back on this important piece of the national security picture," Neumann said today in reaction to Conservative cuts to airport security screening services. The cuts were denounced at a news conference called by the federal New Democratic Party and attended by Steelworkers and other unions representing airport security workers.

"Our union represents more airport security screeners than any other union in Canada," Neumann said. "Our members are on the front lines. They protect the public, they protect our national and international aviation security. In the decade since 9-11, that hard work has paid off. Anyone with intentions to do harm has been stopped. Our members have done a great job.

"The Canadian Air Transport Security Agency (CATSA) is already making changes that could hamper our members' ability to do the job mandated by the government's focus on security," noted Wayne Fraser, the Steelworkers' director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

"CATSA and the security subcontractors don't provide screening services - our members do," Fraser said. "If security screening is important to the protection of Canadian citizens and to international aviation security, then they must have more than a uniform."

The budget cuts are being made at the same time as the Harper government has created a new National Security Cabinet Committee.

"This committee is not a parliamentary committee and not subject to the same scrutiny as parliamentary committees," said Neumann. "We will insist on a meeting with members of this committee. These budget cuts must not be implemented."

Meanwhile, negotiations are currently underway between Aeroguard Group and Steelworkers members who work as security screeners at the Ottawa airport.

"This is a critical time for our members and airport security in general," said USW Staff Representative David Lipton. "They already are under a great deal of stress and deserve the support and respect of the government and its agencies."

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Dave Lipton, USW Staff Representative, (613) 260-7205, ext. 232, (613) 859-8403;
Ken Neumann, USW Canadian Director, 416-544-5950;
Wayne Fraser, USW District 6 Director, 416-577-4045;
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-434-2221, 416-544-5966, bgallagher@usw.ca


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