Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Urgent Action Call Out – Ottawa Info-Picket in Support of Striking Porter Airlines Workers

Where and When:
Assembly point is the Human Rights monument (northeast corner of Elgin and Lisgar) 

Event begins at 7:10am, Thursday, May 23rd.
Ultimate destination -- Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Ave W

Thursday, May 23rd will be Day 133 of a strike by 22 courageous aircraft fuellers at Toronto based Porter Airlines.  The group, members of COPE Local 343, earns wages of $12 and $13 per hour, and they are proposing health and safety training and equipment for their members.  The company has offered paltry increases of zero for some, and 25 cents per hour for others, with nothing at all to address the group’s health and safety concerns.  Porter Airlines is led by CEO and majority owner Robert Deluce, who clearly aims to bust the recently-formed union, and establish poverty wages and rotten working conditions as their competitive advantage over other airlines.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is marking Day 133 of this strike by picking a side in this dispute – and he has picked the wrong side.  Rather than join the growing list of mainstream political leaders respecting the COPE-called Porter Airlines boycott, the Mayor has outraged local residents by inviting Porter’s millionaire CEO to speak to a crony, $45-a-plate breakfast with Ottawa’s Chamber of Commerce.  (See for breakfast details)  It is speculated that the Mayor may be hoping to persuade Deluce to re-locate his union-busting operation to Ottawa.

The Workers Action Working Group of Solidarity Against Austerity is joining the growing grassroots campaign in support of these striking workers.  We invite all those interested in standing up for workers, and challenging these predatory business practices, to join us for a Solidarity Information Picket at the site of this crony breakfast – Ottawa’s City Hall.  We will gather at the Human Rights Monument at the corner of Elgin St. and Lisgar St. at 7:10am on Thursday, May 23rd.

Statement from the Striking Workers at Porter Airlines:

We are 22 Fuellers at Porter FBO, a division of Porter Airlines at Billy Bishop Airport.  We have been on strike since January 10th, trying to secure our first contract.

We formed a union last year because Porter has a history of sloppy health and safety practices.  We did not have proper protective gear and we were dangerously understaffed.

Jet fuel seeped through our gloves and one new father broke both his wrists after falling from a plane.  He was fueling a float plane by himself, a job that safely requires two.

We want to make improvements to the workplace so that it’s not a revolving door of workers, constantly needing to train new staff.  When you don’t even have access to a washroom at the fuel farm, or work 9 hours without a lunch break, people get fed up and leave.

We start at $12.00/hour and average around $13.00/h. Porter offered nothing to about half the workers and $0.25/h to the others.

Once the strike started Porter hired scabs for between $12.50 and $15.50/hour.  This is fundamentally not a dispute about how much Porter can pay, but about whether we will be the first Porter workers to strike and bargain a contract at the Island Airport.

Our message:

Boycott Porter Airlines! Corporate union busters not welcome in Ottawa!
Bring your pots and pans, let’s make some noise!

For more information on the Porter Airlines strike, see: For more information on Solidarity Against Austerity, see: