Workers striking against contracting out at Winnipeg Airport

Workers are concerned about the risk of contracting out for both the public and the airport.

Winnipeg (30 Aug 2017) — 150 workers at the Winnipeg International Airport are on strike to try to stop the airport authority from contracting out work. The workers who are members of Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) Local 50600 of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) include duty managers, administrative workers, various tradespersons, IT workers, airfield maintenance, and labourers.

Airport falling behind on maintenance

Workers are concerned about the risk of contracting out for both the public and the airport. They’ve seen how the airport is having trouble keeping up with maintenance of both the terminal and runways.

Recent weeks have seen two serious maintenance related problems. On August 17, NAV Canada announced that a runway was closed because multiple runway lights weren’t working. On August 19, malfunctioning equipment led to the entire terminal being evacuated.

Contracting out harms service quality

The knowledge permanent workers are able to acquire makes a huge difference when delivering public services. Workers know which areas need the most attention and can easily identify potential problems. That knowledge is lost when a service is contracted out.

Because it’s the lowest bidder that wins contracts, contract workers are paid so little that they don’t stay in a job any longer than they have to. In workplaces where contracting out is common, there is often reports of permanent staff having to redo work that was contracted out.

Labour movement showing solidarity

The Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE) and other unions in the province have been showing their support for the Winnipeg Airport workers. MGEU/NUPGE members have been on the picket line and participating in solidarity rallies. MGEU/NUPGE, Manitoba Teachers’ Society, the Manitoba Federation of Labour, CUPE and other unions have also let the Winnipeg Airport Authority know that they won’t be using the airport during the strike.

It’s a 6 hour drive from Winnipeg to Regina Airport. Driving both ways takes 12 hours. And when MGEU/NUPGE members were travelling to a recent NUPGE meeting they used the Regina Airport to avoid crossing the picket line. 

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. ~ NUPGE