Job action causes delays at Toronto's main airport

Fri Oct 7, 2011 5:23pm EDT
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(Reuters) - A work-to-rule protest by security screeners at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Friday was causing flight delays of up to two hours at Canada's biggest airport ahead of the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.

The job action by employees of Garda World Security Corp has had its biggest impact on Air Canada's international and U.S. flights, said airline spokeswoman Angela Mah. "In some cases, we have experienced flight delays of up to two hours," she said.

Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on Monday. As a result, Air Canada's planes are "very full with more than 100,000 customers expected to travel today", Mah said.

WestJet Airlines Ltd, Canada's second biggest airline, said the work slowdown was not having a major impact on its flights at this stage. WestJet flies within Canada, to the Caribbean and Mexico, and to mostly sun destinations in the United States.

Garda employees at Pearson were unhappy about work shift scheduling, said Mathieu Larocque, a spokesman for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA).

CATSA, a federal agency, is responsible for airline security in Canada. It hires private firms such as Garda to do screening at airports.

The job action first started on Wednesday. Garda took its case to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board, which ruled on Thursday that the work slowdown was illegal. Even so it continued on Friday.