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YVR screening officers rally for better working conditions

According to the union representing security screening employees at the airport, most of the employees work long hours with low pay.

Dozens of airport screening officers gathered outside Vancouver International Airport Monday, calling for better pay and less stressful working conditions.

Screening officers at the rally, located below the SkyTrain overpass, were chanting slogans such as “Low pay, not okay” and “Screening officers work hard for your safety but are underpaid.”

The demonstration held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, aimed to inform the public about the stressful working conditions screening officers face with the uptick in travelling, according to Dave Flowers, president of the International Association of Mchinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) District 140.

However, Flowers also wanted to reassure the public that these officers used their off days or off shifts to attend the rally, so the flying public won’t be impacted.

Richmond News previously reported on long lineups at YVR’s security checkpoints and some travellers almost missing their flights despite arriving hours in advance.

Screeners at YVR are employed by a third-party contractor, Allied Universal, which in turn is employed by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), which is the agency responsible for passenger and luggage screening at YVR and other airports.

CATSA laid off numerous security officers during the pandemic and are now dealing with a labour shortage. This means the screening officers currently employed are working long hours to meet the increased passenger volume, Flowers explained.

“For the travelling public, we know this is frustrating, but it’s not our members who are causing this issue. Please treat screening officers with respect because they are trying to get everyone through as fast and as safely as possible,” said Flowers.

Screen officers usually get paid $17-$22 an hour depending on their working experience, but most make less than a living wage, said Flowers.

He added that reports indicated CATSA plans to hire around 1,000 screening officers this year but it’s not just about hiring more people. The focus should be on retaining workers with more attractive working conditions.

Flowers said they are at the bargaining table and are hoping CATSA to hold the third-party like Allied Universal accountable by raising pay and creating a better working environment for workers.

The Richmond News reached out to the CATSA for comments but hasn't heard back yet. 


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