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Security screeners stage 'Casual Monday' protest at Atlantic Canadian airports

Security screeners at 42 airports across Canada are taking job action Monday in protest of wages and working hours.

The security screeners will dress in casual clothing instead of their uniforms for the “Casual Monday” protest.

The United Steelworkers union, which represents most security screeners, says staff at 15 airports in Atlantic Canada, including St. John’s, Charlottetown, Halifax and Moncton, are taking part.

“There are so many screening officers that have quit because of low pay and poor working conditions that the airports are severely understaffed,” David Lipton, representative of the United Steelworkers union in Ottawa, told CTV National News.

Tiffany Chase, a spokesperson for the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, says the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority has assured the airport that the silent protest will not affect operations in Halifax, which is the largest airport in Atlantic Canada.

The USW says many of its members are being forced to work 16 to 17 hour days as a result of staffing shortages.

In Ottawa, Lipton says there should be 350 screeners, and they’re currently operating with about 210 on the floor.

“Workers are working hours and hours and hours without breaks, in many cases with forced overtime,” he said. “Their rates of pay are just not up to par. Many senior employees are leaving to find other employment as a result.”

The challenges faced by security screeners are coming at a time when staffing is so short that some unions are offering staff hundreds of dollars a week if they don’t take a vacation or sick days. The union says improving working hours and conditions needs to happen as soon as possible.

With some experts raising caution about new Omicron subvariants, and the vaccine mandate dropping for domestic flights on Monday, there is concern that this could lead to even more staff leaving the job.

The union says improving working hours and conditions needs to happen as soon as possible.

Monday’s job action is not expected to impact security waits and won’t take place in Toronto, Vancouver or Calgary, where staff are under a different union.

The federal government announced last week that it is aware of the delays and is working on solutions, adding that nearly 900 screening officers have been hired since April across Canada.

With Files from Top Stories

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