Montreal airports warn of possible delays after refuellers launch strike

MONTREAL — Workers in charge of refuelling planes at two Montreal airports went on strike Tuesday morning, prompting the city’s airport authority to warn of possible flight delays.

Roughly 100 employees with Swissport Canada, the only supplier of fuel for airlines operating out of Montreal’s cargo airfield in Mirabel and the city’s main airport, Montreal-Trudeau International, walked off the job around 11 a.m.

Peter Tsoukalas, president of the local for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said his members fuelled all the planes at Montreal-Trudeau before hitting the picket lines.

“We tried to help the population by making sure all the planes were filled before we launched the strike,” Tsoukalas said Tuesday.

By 1 p.m. Tuesday, many afternoon flights posted on the website of Montreal-Trudeau were listed as delayed, but a spokesperson for the airport authority said those problems were due to bad weather.

Police and airport patrol at Montreal-Trudeau were working to ensure security and the continuity of operations, the airport authority said in a statement.

“Operations are continuing at the airport, but … the dispute could result in delays in flight schedules.”

Swissport Canada said it doesn’t expect any significant delays or work slowdowns due to the labour conflict, saying it brought in trained managers from across the country to replace its striking workers.

Swissport employees in Montreal rejected a tentative contract deal in a 90 per cent vote last Friday.

Salaries and work-life balance are the main points of contention between the employer and the workers, who have been without a contract since August.

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