An airport security guard handles checked luggage at Montreal's Trudeau Airport. ((Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press))

International giant Securitas is taking over security management at airports in eastern Canada.

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority contract covers airports from Quebec east, and is worth $481 million over five years.

CATSA put out the request for proposals in January, and the union representing airport screeners in the Maritimes says workers are breathing a sigh of relief knowing who their new boss will be, and that their jobs are safe.

Lawrence McKay, co-ordinator for the Steelworkers' Union in the Maritimes, told CBC News Tuesday Securitas is guaranteeing jobs and other rights — such as seniority, vacation time and wages.

"The meetings that we've had so far today, there's a lot of relief," said McKay.

Securitas takes over airport security from the current manager, Newfoundland-based Shannahan's, on Nov. 1. McKay said Securitas has already asked the union to survey workers to find out their major concerns.

In Charlottetown the top issue is split shifts — working four hours in the morning and then coming back for another four-hour shift at night. These shifts have been eliminated at the Stanfield Airport in Halifax, and McKay hopes Charlottetown is next.

"With Shannahan's there was people going home on a split shift while other people were coming in to start a split shift, so it didn't make a whole lot of sense," he said.

Securitas Transport Aviation is part of the world's largest security company, with a quarter million employees in 30 countries.