04/09/2015 10:44 EDT | Updated 06/09/2015 04:59 EDT

Canadian Union of Public Employees wants probe into firing of airport staff

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - The Canadian Union of Public Employees says 26 union members have been fired at the airport in Fort McMurray, Alta., and they’re concerned that temporary foreign workers are being brought in.

Airport officials say they had to contract Bill’s General Cleaning to come in because they needed a bigger crew once a new terminal opened.

But CUPE Alberta president Marle Roberts says that company has a sister company that specializes in “foreign recruiting.”

Airport president Scott Clements says that Bill’s General Cleaning has plenty of Canadians on its payroll, along with a few temporary foreign workers.

Clements says it's his understanding the company does not plan to hire any more temporary foreign workers.

The federal government has placed caps on how many temporary foreign workers can be hired by a company.

Clements says the cleaner has assured him that he’s following all the TFW rules.

“I talked to him directly before we did this and I asked him that very question, are you legal? And he said, ‘absolutely. I follow all the regulations on the TFW program in particular.’”

Roberts says that there is language in the collective agreement between CUPE and the Fort McMurray Airport Authority that states if unionized members are let go in favour of privatized workers, the authority has to provide CUPE with a business case.

“We have not received a solid business case from them in regards to that,” Roberts says.

Clements says Bill’s General Cleaning has promised to interview all 26 workers that were fired from the airport. A representative from the cleaning company could not be reached for comment.

CUPE say it will ask Labour Minister Kelly Leitch to look into the allegations.

“The Government of Canada takes allegations of abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program very seriously," says a statement released by the government.

"All allegations are vigorously investigated. The Government will not tolerate any abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Our message to employers is clear — Canadians must always be first in line for available jobs.”