Labor dispute disrupts flights at Toronto airport

Fri Jul 3, 2015 2:13pm EDT
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By Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) - A sudden labor disruption by workers who refuel planes at Toronto's main airport caused flight delays and cancellations on Friday, said the union that represents the workers, as the city prepared for the start of the Pan American Games on July 10.

In a bulletin posted online, Pearson International Airport said a labor dispute could disrupt flights.

By 1:20 p.m., its website showed 45 canceled departures and more than 70 delays affecting a range of airlines. It was not clear how many were routine, and how many were caused by the dispute.

International Association of Machinists spokesman Bill Trbovich said members of Lodge 2413, employees of Consolidated Aviation Fueling, were calling in sick in large numbers, but the union had not sanctioned the job action.

Many of the canceled flights were those operated by Air Canada, the airport's biggest user. But rival WestJet Airlines Ltd said the dispute had led to two cancellations as well as "lengthy delays."

"Union members are calling in sick and as a result, there are fewer staff at work today and it is taking much longer to have our aircraft refueled," said WestJet spokesman Robert Palmer in an email.

IAM's Trbovich said some 30 of the 47 workers due in on Friday morning called in sick. Of the 56 scheduled to work in the afternoon, at least 27 have called in sick. He said union leaders were hoping to meet with their employer.

Some 250 employees of Consolidated Aviation Fueling are set to lose their jobs in the autumn as Air Canada and other airlines switch fuel providers, he said.   Continued...