Ground crew workers strike may affect flights at Pearson, airport says

Travellers heading to Canada’s busiest airport are being warned that a strike by about 700 ground crew workers may affect some flights today.

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport is asking travellers to check the status of their flights and says it will provide updates as they become available.

The striking workers are employed by Swissport and include baggage and cargo handlers, cabin cleaners, and other ground crew.

Swissport works with several major airlines operating out of Pearson, including Air Transat, Sunwing, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa.

Picket lines have been set up outside Pearson’s Terminal 3, as well as a cargo terminal near Swissport’s main offices.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority says it has a contingency plan in place to deal with the labour dispute.

The unionized Swissport workers went on strike Thursday night after rejecting a contract offer from their employer by a 95 per cent margin.

Teamsters Local 419, the union representing the workers, has said striking employees would not interfere with passengers trying to catch planes.

The union said Swissport is attempting to impose a three-year wage freeze on the majority of the workers, require staff to work a minimum of 30 hours a week to qualify for full benefits, and is seeking the right to change schedules with 96 hours advance notice.

Swissport said it has bargained in good faith throughout contract talks.

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