Airport screeners set to go on strike

Airport security screeners across Atlantic Canada have voted to strike by Nov. 1, potentially grounding flights.

Air travel could be shut down without security screening

Airport security screeners across Atlantic Canada have voted to strike.

About 800 members of the United Steelworkers Union have a collective agreement that expires at the end of Oct. 2012.

If a deal isn't worked out between the union and the multi-national security company Securitas, Atlantic Canadians who are planning to fly could be grounded.

"If these employees aren't working, people don't fly," said Lawrence McKay, area coordinator of the United Steelworkers Union. "Because you can't get on an airplane before you're screened. You know if they go on strike, basically the airlines are shut down."

Screeners at airports pass luggage through x-ray machines and scan passengers with metal detecting wands.

Conciliation talks broke down over a week ago between the screeners and Securitas.

On Friday, workers representing 17 Atlantic Canadian airports voted to strike almost unanimously.

Chris Farmer is Director of Operations at the Greater Moncton International Airport. He says screeners don't fall under the jurisdiction of individual airports.

"We've been told that there is a contingency plan in place but I would imagine with any sort of labour disruption, delays could be expected for the travelling public," said Farmer.

Lawrence McKay says an essential services deal will be negotiated.

If no deal is reached, airport screeners across the region will be eligible to go on strike Nov. 1.