First Air lays off 9 cargo workers in Iqaluit

Nine First Air cargo workers in Iqaluit have received layoff notices. An executive says it’s because the airline wants to hire seven local people to replace the jobs being lost.

Airline promises to create 7 full-time Iqaluit-based jobs; encourages beneficiaries to apply

Nine First Air cargo workers in Iqaluit have received layoff notices, but an airline executive says the layoffs are not related to the proposed merger between First Air and Canadian North.

Bert van der Stege, First Air’s vice president of commercial affairs, says seven new local positions will replace those that were lost.

“At the moment we have a lot of staff going back and forth. They live in the South and go to work in the North and what I’d like to do is encourage beneficiaries to apply for these positions,” he says. 

Three full-time and six part-time jobs will be cut in November.

Van der Stege says the union representing the staff supported the change, aiming to create more full-time jobs in the North.

Cargo delays irk business owners

Meanwhile, concerns are mounting over long delays with First Air cargo in Iqaluit.

Some business owners say they've been waiting weeks for goods, and it's affecting their business.

"It's frustrating. All week we’ve been picking up the phone, and every other call is ‘Is your stuff in? Is your stuff in?’” says Baffin Electronics owner John Coogan. “It’s like we never ordered it.”

Coogan says weeks of waylaid cargo are putting his store's reputation on the line.

It's the same story for Michel Gilbert, manager of Upper Base Garage, who says business is backed up because of the delays.

“If it takes three weeks [to fix a vehicle] people are not happy.”

Van der Stege says he doesn’t know why the delays are happening right now.

Both business owners fear things could get worse once the nine positions are cut.