The problem with minimum wage ground crews

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Gilles Hudicourt
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The problem with minimum wage ground crews

Post by Gilles Hudicourt »

In light of recent big delays encountered by several airlines on days of inclement weather, I'd like to bring up a subject: The conditions of of ground workers at major Canadian airports.
Some airlines still have their own ground personnel, at least at their major bases, but the trend is now to subcontract counter and gate work, luggage handling, and ground operations to Commercial ground handling companies.

Often, these are staffed with low paid workers with high employee turnover, who work around the clock, often in horrible split shifts, in all sorts of weather. Any kind of severe weather, such as thunderstorms, major snow storms, freezing rain or extremely low temperature, can rain havoc on ground handling and as a consequence, on airline operations.

When these major delays occur, it can costs the airlines millions in IROPS.......not to mention the disruptions in travel plans to thousands of passengers......

During the last event of freezing rain in YYZ, Swissport announced that 80 to 90 of its personnel did not show up for work. Yet that was a day when extra help would have been helpful. What about the Airport authorities ? Did they have the right staffing for clearing the runways and the ramps ?

I've read about aircraft landing on time, but inbound luggage still being in the holds several hours later. I've heard of tugs unable to pull aircraft, of K-Loaders unable to move on icy or snow covered ramps......of bridges being unable to dock to aircraft.....

But then all you hear in the press is about how such and such airline mistreated its passengers.

Extreme weather does not arrive out of the blue. They are often forecast. Do airports and ground handlers have contingency plans that they implement when severe weather is forecast ? Who oversees them ?
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sanjet
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Re: The problem with minimum wage ground crews

Post by sanjet »

Airlines can plan all they want for extra help but like you say, when minimum wage workers see the weather outside, they will just call in sick. What have they got to lose? I don’t blame them at all, why would I risk slipping and falling for a minimum wage job.
The airlines with subpar ground crews will probably suffer on those days but I bet the bean counters know they probably save a lot of $$$ over the rest of the year.


In the end passengers who suffer with the delays probably will still choose the same airline if the ticket is 10$ cheaper than the airline with better ground crew. There is this new era of “recreational outrage” where people get upset but will forget about it real quickly when it suits them.
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montado
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Re: The problem with minimum wage ground crews

Post by montado »

Kind of had a chuckle reading this. I never thought the pay was the issue, or contracted ground handling.
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Eric Janson
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Re: The problem with minimum wage ground crews

Post by Eric Janson »

I've seen the complete opposite.

Unionised workers employed directly by the airline calling in sick when the weather was nice so they can go to the beach.

Company can't do anything.

It's not just a 'wage issue' - it's also an 'attitude issue' imho.
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confusedalot
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Re: The problem with minimum wage ground crews

Post by confusedalot »

Not so sure about minimum wage workers for cut rate contractors having enough flexibility to not show up for work just because they do not feel like it. Seems to me that these rather disadvantaged people stand a very high chance of being terminated very quickly by doing stuff like that, their bosses are not stupid nor are they forgiving. The minimum wage working world is a hard place to be no matter what job you are in. Life is not a picnic for many in the working world, aircrew have a tendency to forget that.
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Adam Oke
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Re: The problem with minimum wage ground crews

Post by Adam Oke »

Most spray operators have it right. If you want someone to wake up at god awful hours, work long tedious days in scorching heat in a loud, dry, dust filled environment, and then wash rinse repeat running on E until it rains -- you have to pay them accordingly. $20-25 an hour is not uncommon. Even as a farm hand I was making well above minimum wage in the 20's. I always mention that Rampies are underpaid for what they go through and was floored that they made minimum wage when I moved to the airlines.
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tsgas
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Re: The problem with minimum wage ground crews

Post by tsgas »

capitalism is all about supply and demand. If you have a surplus of labour and you overpay them it doesn't increase their efficiency. Government employees are overpaid and under worked. :lol:
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Victory
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Re: The problem with minimum wage ground crews

Post by Victory »

I've worked with ramp workers making minimum wage that gave their all everyday because they knew if they didn't they would be heading down the road. Conditions were much harder than those at major airports in the big cities. Weather was much much colder and the work was much more physically demanding. The problem with ramp workers in Toronto and other Canadian cities is they know they can get away with doing a bad job.
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DrSpaceman
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Re: The problem with minimum wage ground crews

Post by DrSpaceman »

They need to pay more and fire people that don’t work. It’s not rocket science.
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cdnpilot77
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Re: The problem with minimum wage ground crews

Post by cdnpilot77 »

If you subcontract staff, those people become an extension of your company. If your company chooses to subcontract the work, they should take it on the chin and not try to pass the buck when IROPS happen. If it’s a wage issue, find a subcontractor that pays their employees better and pay appropriately for their services. You get what you pay for. Blaming a minimum wage worker for my neighbours having to wait 5 days to get their luggage is ridiculous, blame the bean counter in your company that contracted them.
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