MONTREAL - Security screeners at Montreal's Trudeau International Airport have given their union a strike mandate after unanimously rejecting the latest contract offer from Securitas Transport Aviation Services.
The United Steelworkers Union says the 600 employees are prepared to launch a strike if mediated talks on Monday fail to reach a deal to address wages that are lower than for those working at airports in Toronto and Quebec City.
Workers also want the company to live up to what they see as a commitment to improve the availability of lunch rooms.
The union says some employees have to eat near the security equipment because of a lack of space at break rooms and Securitas refuses to compensate workers when they can't take breaks because of excess work.
The employees have been expressing their disappointment with negotiations since October by wearing camouflage pants, pyjamas or union hats.
Union representative Michel Courcy said in a news release that salaries earned by its members should better reflect the essential contribution they make to air transportation security.
Workers make between $15 and $21 an hour but want the same wages approved in a recent contract in Toronto between Garda Security and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers that pays an additional $2.35 an hour. Workers in Quebec City earn three per cent more even though the airport is classified a lower, Tier 2 facility.
The employees can launch strike action once the Canada Industrial Relations Board orders what essential services must be maintained during a strike.
Courcy said a strike would inconvenience passengers even though only 20 per cent of the employees would be on the picket line.
"The consequence will be that the lines will be longer and it will take more time to pass through security," he said in an interview.
Courcy hopes talks will result in a deal to avert the first strike in Canada by airport security screeners.
"We hope that just the result of the strike vote will make the employer aware of the developments it must take."
Securitas couldn't be immediately reached for comment.