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Porter Airlines flying despite ground-crew strike

A Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 turboprop at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport

© Mark Blinch / Reuters/REUTERS

Porter Airlines flights continued to take to the skies Thursday despite a strike of 22 ground-crew workers who refuel the short-haul planes, taking off from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

The employees who work for Porter FBO, a subsidiary company which refuels the flights for Porter Airlines and other charter and private planes using the airport on Toronto Islands, went on strike Thursday morning after talks broke down with the company.

The Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) representing the workers said the strike action was necessary due to workplace safety concerns, as well as the offer of only an hourly 25-cent wage increase for workers without a DZ heavy-truck licence and no increase for DZ certified workers.

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Porter said in a statement that it "is committed to negotiating a fair contract with our team members. We're disappointed that the union has chosen to walk away from the bargaining table and go on strike at the first opportunity, rather than focus its energy on negotiating a first contract for employees."

This is the first attempt by Porter and COPE to cobble together a contract since the refuelling workers unionized in August.

Porter noted that no flights or service will be disrupted. Other non-unionized Porter Airlines workers have been trained to refuel the planes, said a company spokesman, indicating that Porter has long had a contingency plan in case a strike occurred.

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Guy Dixon is a feature writer for The Globe and Mail. More

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