Vancouver International Airport travelers may face serious air safety risks March 1 when experienced full-time staff required to use shotguns, explosive pyrotechnics, lasers and dogs to prevent bird strikes - like the one that downed jet airliner in New York's Hudson River in January - all lose their jobs



    VANCOUVER, Feb. 19 /CNW/ - Air travelers flying through Vancouver
International Airport may face serious air safety risks starting March 1 when
experienced, full-time wildlife control officers are dismissed from their jobs
- and are replaced by new, inexperienced part-time and casual workers, says a
union representing hundreds of workers at YVR.
    The current wildlife control officers - who work 24 hours a day with
shotguns, pyrotechnics the fire explosive projectiles, lasers and trained dogs
to prevent potentially deadly bird strikes as aircraft take off and land -
have all been terminated effective March 1, says their union, the Union of
Canadian Transportation Employees - a component of the Public Service Alliance
of Canada.
    "The experienced wildlife control officers - who have made Vancouver
International Airport a safe place for aircraft despite millions of birds
visiting or living near YVR each year - will all be replaced by new part-time
and casual workers who have never patrolled the airport before," says Dave
Clark, UCTE Acting Regional Vice-President.
    "We believe this is a serious safety issue that anyone flying in or out
of Vancouver International Airport should be deeply concerned about - and we
urge the public to tell YVR management, airline companies and federal
authorities that they want the experienced wildlife control officers to stay
on the job," Clark said.
    The union is launching an advertising and public awareness campaign in an
effort to convince YVR management to reverse its decision and restore the
wildlife control officers to their jobs, Clark said, including a website -
www.keepYVRsafe.com - where email messages of concern can be sent to YVR
management and board.
    "YVR is one of the best and busiest airports in the world but it also has
an enormous population of both transient migratory and permanent birds that
can obviously bring down a huge jet airliner if they get in the way," Clark
said. "Surely anyone can see that dismissing experienced wildlife control
officers in this situation is simply a crazy risk that should never be taken.
    The wildlife control officers were given notice of dismissal when their
employer, Commissionaires BC, was informed its contract with YVR would not be
renewed, says Clark.
    And Clark says UCTE has filed a series of unfair labour practice charges
because the wildlife control officers only lost their jobs after signing union
cards in an effort to win a first collective agreement.
    "These wildlife control officers are being treated unfairly but what's
worse is that as of March 1 air travelers, pilots and crew will have to pray
and hope that the new, inexperienced workers can immediately do a very
difficult job as well as experts who have up to 18 years experience right here
at the airport," Clark said.
    Clark says it's unlikely that the Canada Industrial Relations Board would
rule on the union's unfair labour practices complaints in time to possibly
restore the jobs of the wildlife control officers by March 1.
    The union is getting increasingly concerned about safety issues at YVR.
    Earlier this month the UCTE demanded an independent inquiry into snow
removal problems at YVR after learning new details of a jet crash during a
snowstorm in early January.
    A Mexican-registered Cessna Citation 650 business jet with five people on
board crashed off Runway 12 after landing in a snowstorm at Vancouver at 5:30
p.m. on Sunday January 4, collapsing its nose gear when it went through 18
inch deep plowed snow alongside the runway edge lights, according to a report
from Transport Canada's Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System
(CADORS).
    But original YVR reports to media said the nose gear "collapsed after
landing" and did not mention that the nose gear was broken by the heavy,
ploughed snow. Furthermore, during "snow event" operations, Runway 12 is
supposed to be closed to aircraft, the union said, raising additional
questions about what happened that day.
    The union released photos of the jet crash on the PSAC BC website at:
http://www.psacbc.com/





For further information:

For further information: Bill Tieleman, West Star Communications at
(604) 844-7827 or cell (778) 896-0964; or Dave Thompson, PSAC BC at cell (604)
828-2660

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PUBLIC SERVICE ALLIANCE OF CANADA BC

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