Planned Cuts Mean Airport Delays And Risk to Passenger Safety - Steelworkers

TORONTO, Jan. 12, 2012 /CNW/ - Further cuts to airport security screening services will mean airport delays and seriously compromise national security and passenger safety, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

"Airport security screening suffered cutbacks and major disruptions from last year's reorganization. Now the Canadian Air Transport Security Agency (CATSA) is making more major cuts. This can't go on without adding to airport lineups and affecting passenger safety," said Wayne Fraser, USW Ontario and Atlantic Director. The USW represents pre-board security screeners at numerous airports across Canada.

In addition to the employer re-organization, CATSA cut staff and screening hours by 15 to 20 per cent in May of last year. Now CATSA is rolling out a further round of cuts. Just in Toronto, almost 300 security screeners are being laid off at Pearson International Airport at the end of January.

"Additional cuts are not the way to improve passenger safety, national security or wait times," said Ken Neumann, the USW's National Director for Canada. "The public is expecting, and paying for, improvements, not reductions. They want safer air travel and more-timely processing."

Passenger fees for security screening range from $7.48 for a one-way domestic flight, to up to $25.91 for an international flight.

CATSA is a Crown corporation created in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In an unprecedented reorganizing move for little reward, CATSA overhauled airport security in Canada by re-assigning third-party contracts to security services suppliers through a bidding process in 2011.

"Our members are proud of the jobs they do," said Neumann. "They protect the public, they protect our national and international aviation security. But how can we maintain that level of public safety when CATSA keeps cutting front-line jobs and insisting on faster passenger processing?

"It is time the Harper Government took air safety seriously. Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities Denis Lebel should act now and recognize that a well-maintained, professional workforce in our airports is an important first-line of defence and security for Canadian travellers," added Neumann.

"These cuts don't make any sense. Each passenger pays a fee for security screening. Air travel is up, more people are travelling. So where's the money going? It's not going to front-line security, I can tell you that," Fraser added.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Wayne Fraser, USW District Director, 416-577-4045
Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5950
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, bgallagher@usw.ca, 416-544-5966


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