The unexpected elimination of seven CUPE positions from the Fort McMurray Airport Authority is a hard hit to the already dwindling service levels at the airport, says the union representing employees of the Airport Authority.

“These cuts follow the elimination of 50 custodian and security positions in 2015”, said Judy Collier, President of CUPE 1505. “The Bargaining Unit has gone from approximately 73 CUPE members to only 12 in just 3 years. With the recent reduction in hours of work and these layoffs, the travellers can expect a further decline in service levels.

Although some management and administration positions were also eliminated, Collier feels additional reductions of the highly paid management positions would have been more beneficial, while leaving service levels intact.

“The cuts are exclusively to the maintenance team, eliminating more than half the workers who maintain the grounds and runways, which includes ensuring safety for incoming and outgoing flights,” said Collier.

“After very tough negotiations to renew the collective agreement, reduction of hours and now this, the mood was extremely somber yesterday. Between losing co-workers who are like family; and knowing we can’t do the job as well as we used to, it hurts everyone, not just the members given layoff notices.”

Collier said affected employees have been notified and have received letters detailing their options. CUPE will work with the laid off members to ensure their rights are protected and will continue to advocate against cuts to the public service.