Airport privatization will hurt workers and the public: Unifor

TORONTO, March 30, 2017 /CNW/ - A suggestion from the operators of Pearson International Airport that they would be open to selling airport land to private investors should be rejected immediately by the federal government, Unifor National President Jerry Dias says.

"Handing over public assets to private investors so they can jack up fees does little to help Canadians or to encourage traffic through our airports," Dias said. "The people who end up paying for that sort of strategy are workers at the airports and the traveling public."

Dias noted that last weeks' federal budget made no mention of privatizing airports, despite speculation in financial circles that it might, and that other airport authorities such as Calgary, Ottawa and Vancouver are decidedly against the idea.

"Unifor does not support the privatization of airports or other public assets, particularly when they generate significant revenue that helps fund the government services we all rely on," Dias said.

The Pearson suggestion to sell airport land in order to fund Pearson's transformation into a mega-hub are contained in a briefing note from the Greater Toronto Airport Authority to the federal government earlier this year, and only made public this week.

As not-for-profit operations, every penny airports raise is re-invested in their own operations. Requiring some of that money to be syphoned off to cover profits would only take money away from serving the flying public and do nothing to improve safety or quality of service, Dias said.

As well, Unifor and other unions have been forced to fight back against contract-flipping and other practices that have hurt airport workers. This would only worsen in the pursuit of profit, he said.

"We get a good deal from our airports. Privatization puts that at risk," Dias said. "Growth at Pearson is a good economic strategy, and we need to make sure that all stakeholders benefit."

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers, including 12,000 in the air transportation sector and 46,000 in transportation as a whole. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.


For further information: Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at or (cell) 647-385-4054.

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