MONTREAL — “Our main concerns are safety and wages,” Tony Digenova, International Association of Machinists Local 2301 chief steward, told the Militant on the picket line at the Montréal-Trudeau International airport Jan. 9. He is one of 108 aircraft supply workers, dispatchers, fuel storage maintenance workers and mechanics on strike against Swissport Canada Inc. here and at the nearby Mirabel cargo airport.
Swissport is a highly profitable multinational conglomerate with some 70,000 workers worldwide.
They went on strike Dec. 31 after rejecting the bosses’ contract offer by a vote of 90%. They’ve been without a contract since August 2019.
The union explained that the low pay — 16 Canadian dollars an hour ($12.25) — and insufficient training are designed to cut costs and boost profits.
The union has condemned the bosses’ decision to run fueling services using unskilled management strikebreakers. Three days after the strike began, a scab tanker truck driver hit a cement pillar, spilling fuel.
The strikers are up against not only Swissport bosses, but also the federal government’s Industrial Relations Board, the Montreal airport authorities and the airport cops, who have restricted their picketing to an isolated coned-off perimeter outside the main passenger terminal.
Some 250 workers attended a solidarity rally Jan. 15 at the Swissport offices in St.-Laurent, Montreal. Joining the action were Machinists from the Bombardier aircraft plant, United Steelworkers, UNIFOR and other unions.