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Airport refuellers in Montreal end month long strike after ratification vote on new deal

January 31, 2020
By The Canadian Press

Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo: Getty Images

Montreal airport refuellers are heading back to work after approving a three-year agreement with Swissport Canada Inc. following a month-long strike.

The roughly 100 workers ratified the agreement in principle on Thursday after reaching a tentative deal shortly before sunrise a day earlier. They are slated to go back on the job Tuesday.

Peter Tsoukalas, local president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, says the practice of contract flipping continues to harm employees but that the agreement “is a step in the right direction.”

Contract flipping refers to when employers award contracts to different service providers every few years, compelling workers to re-apply for their jobs and sometimes lose recently gained wage increases and benefits.

Louis-Philippe Charland, who heads human resources for Swissport, says the company is “pleased with the outcome” of the vote and that the deal “represents substantial improvements for all employees.”

An initial tentative agreement reached on Dec. 21 was rejected by union members, leading them to walk off the job on New Year’s Eve.

Salaries and work-life balance were the main points of contention between Swissport and its workers, who had been without a contract since August.

Montreal’s airport authority has said that no flight delays arose due to fuelling issues as Swissport’s local managers and staff from across the country tried to fill the roles of the striking workers.

The strike at Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International and Mirabel airports includes aircraft refuellers as well as mechanics, dispatchers and maintenance workers of fuel storage facilities.

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