Porter Airlines Strike: Carrier Says Potential Labour Disruption Won't Affect Flights

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Last-ditch negotiations between the union representing employees who fuel aircraft for Porter Airlines and the regional carrier were continuing Wednesday with the help of a federal mediator, in hopes of averting a labour disruption. A member of the in-flight crew disembarks from a Porter Dash-8 aircraft after landing at the Airport servicing Sault Ste Marie Canada (CP/Kenneth Armstrong) | CP

TORONTO - Porter Airlines says it will provide regular service despite a strike by employees who fuel the aircraft.

Twenty-two workers were set to go on strike Thursday at 12:01 a.m. after talks broke down with the airline Wednesday.

UPDATE: Porter Airlines fueling staff at Toronto's island airport have gone through with their threat to walk off the job Thursday, the Toronto Star reports.

The 22 workers who refuel planes at the airport set up picket lines outside the airport, but Porter spokespeople said there were no interruptions to travel.

Although the company said it has other trained employees to fuel the aircraft, the union representing the workers said it was concerned that the replacements do not have the skills to do the job properly.

The Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union says it will take those concerns, which include safety concerns, to federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt.

"There will be zero impact on the business. All fights will operate," Porter spokesman Brad Cicero said of the operations at Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto.

"We have a full team of staff available ... all fully trained and ready to go."

Porter Aviation Holdings Inc. said the 22 workers who work at the airline's base in Toronto have been without a contract since they joined the union last August.

The deadline for both sides to reach a deal was 12:01 a.m. Thursday, but the union said talks broke down after Porter asked for a one-day extension after not moving on wage issues.

The union said the largest issues are wages, health benefits and safety concerns.

Porter said in a statement that it was "committed to negotiating a fair contract with our team members."

"We’re disappointed that the union has chosen to walk away from the bargaining table and go on strike at the first opportunity, rather than focus its energy on negotiating a first contract for employees," it said.

Last year, Porter Airlines said it carried 2.45 million passengers, a 15 per cent increase over its 2011 levels.

The airline flies to about a dozen cities in Eastern Canada and several U.S. destinations.

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