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Swissport workers told to exercise rights on Friday

Published: 
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
PSA president Watson Duke

Public Services Association president Watson Duke yesterday again management of the local branch of Swissport International that workers will no longer tolerate being short-changed in terms of contracts, salaries and constitutionally afforded rights regarding designated lunch and recreational breaks.

He made the comment yesterday as he renewed his call for the workers to join their counterparts from the Customs and Excise Department and the Agricultural Development Bank in a planned union march in Port-of-Spain on Friday to demonstrate their displeasure with the current terms and conditions being meted out to workers.

“Employers cannot continue to treat workers like this, enough is enough,” Duke told Swissport workers at the Piarco International Airport yesterday.

Duke alleged that over 600 workers from both Trinidad and Tobago were being taken advantage off, as they continue to work in excess of 40 hours per week - with some even racking up close to 80 hours per week. He added that management had refused in many of the cases to pay the overtime.

Some of the workers yesterday confirmed this, as they said a few of them had crossed the designated hours for last month and were yet to receive the additional compensation.

Swissport International provides passenger and ramp handling services at over 217 locations worldwide.

It includes station management and administration such as load control, flight operations assistance and weather briefing; passenger services such as airport ticketing/arrival and transfer services, special passenger and VIP services, and check-in; and aircraft servicing and ramp handling such as baggage sorting and transportation, cabin cleaning, aircraft loading/unloading, and toilet and water services.

Several of the workers yesterday presented letters detailing varying terms and conditions despite the fact that the group of them all had the same number of years service.

They also questioned their continued livelihood following a newspaper advertisement last week inviting English-speaking foreigners to apply for positions such as baggage handlers, gas and diesel mechanics, supervisors, cargo agents and aviation security agents.

Several attempts to reach local officials of Swissport were unsuccessful yesterday.

When Airports Authority of T&T (AATT) officials were contacted and asked if contingency plans were being put in place should Friday’s action occur, officials said the AATT was “committed to safety and security at the Piarco and ANR Robinson International Airports.

The Authority is focused on its customers and to that end, continues to work assiduously to ensure that we deliver an exceptional customer experience at all times at our airports.”