Air Canada suspends, investigates bag-throwing workers

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Air Canada is investigating two employees caught on camera throwing passenger luggage from a plane stairway to a trolley below. The employees have been suspended and could be fired.
It can be a constant battle to ensure employees follow procedure, especially if they see a shortcut that will make their task easier, and as phone cameras become ubiquitous it becomes more likely that those working in the public eye will be caught on film.
That’s the situation Air Canada now faces after a passenger on a flight from Toronto to Vancouver filmed employees dropping bags from the stairway.
In a statement, the airline's spokesperson Isabelle Arthur said the two suspended employees have been "advised that their employment will be terminated" pending the outcome of the company’s probe into the matter.
"Their actions clearly contravened our standard baggage-handling procedures which require gate-checked bags to be hand-carried to the ramp," Arthur said.

The video was posted to YouTube last Thursday. By Monday morning, it had been viewed more than one million times.
The union representing the two employees said baggage handlers are often under intense pressure from management to move items as quickly as possible.
"Management is pushing them to get the planes out on time," International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers spokesman Bill Trbovich told The Canadian Press. He said that the stairways that baggage handlers use are steep, and it would be dangerous to hurry down them.
  • Ken Godevenos on 2014-04-22 1:48:31 PM

    Three shames for Air Canada and its Unions:
    1. That they had to wait for the "phone cameras (to) become ubiquitous" before they discovered this "shortcut" process themselves.
    2. That they have told the employees they will "be terminated" but they have not done so yet.
    3. That the Union is trying to make excuses for the employees rather than fixing the problem.
    The employees should have worked safely, no doubt, but they don't take hold travelers' bags ransom to their safety.

  • Kellie on 2014-04-22 3:00:33 PM

    What troubles me is that they say they are doing an investigation; and yet they have already concluded the employees will be terminated. What is the purpose of the investigation? To see how quickly they will terminate? This is not to say there should not be discipline; however, if these employees have nothing else on their records - is it truly destroying the employment relationship to the point of termination? Possibly without cause????

  • Ken Godevenos on 2014-04-22 3:05:33 PM

    The camera did the investigation. There is no denying to what was done and the rules were broken for whatever reason. I am sure some liberal progressive heart bleeder of an arbitrator will give them their job back, but the evidence is clear. The employment relationship was shattered before this happened -- they didn't care either for the employer or the passengers. And what, Kellie, if that was your grandmother's treasured goods in there that were destroyed?

  • Kellie on 2014-04-22 3:09:01 PM

    Hi Ken
    I understand the camera caught their 'mis-deeds' on tape - and I also understand the severity of their deliberate actions; but what I am saying is that they are publicising the outcome before the investigation is complete. Perhaps it would result in dismissal; however, I would be very surprised if it resulted in a 'just cause' dismissal unless there is some history of wrong doing previously. Don't get me wrong, I agree with you Ken in that the handling of the luggage was atrocious - my point is that they are announcing termination just like that.

  • Ken Godevenos on 2014-04-22 3:24:12 PM

    I agree with the fact that they (Air Canada) has also bungled up their "after-math" handling and communications, Kellie. And that is a good point worth making. Thanks. Ken.

  • Frederick on 2014-04-23 12:21:22 PM

    What if management gave orders to skip standard procedures to save time?
    What if the standard procedures allow exceptions?

  • Ken Godevenos on 2014-04-23 12:31:59 PM

    Hey Federick, your "what ifs" are very interesting. The company had, according to them a policy, to be followed, or at least an SOP. If management gave an order to skip those to save time, then whatever level approved those need to go too. (I personally think it unlikely that this was the case, but all things are possible.) But that does not take the employees off the hook -- they could have gone to their union or to more senior management indicating they were not prepared to disregard an SOP or policy no matter who gave them the orders -- this is indeed 2014 and they would have been thought highly of had they done so.

    Secondly, any SOP that allows exceptions which allow your grandmother's baggage (or yours or mine) to be treated as was clearly shown on the Video is not worth the paper it's written on. Fire the writer too. But again, it is very unlikely that this was the case. I am always amazed at the extremities that we all go to to either defend or criticize a particular action or lack thereof. But thanks for making us think further. Ken.

  • CariMeAway on 2014-04-25 1:26:59 PM

    Kellie: If management decides to terminate their employment, and they don't have any reprimands on their personnel files, these baggage handlers will be in a position where they can make a claim of unjust dismissal with the feds.

  • Ken Godevenos on 2014-04-25 1:38:10 PM

    You're absolutely right CariMeAway and that my friends is why we never get ahead in Canada with our competitiveness.

  • lisa on 2014-04-27 12:38:44 PM

    It's not just Air Canada, it's all Pearson Airport staff. 3 of my 4 large bags were ripped in the middle because they were thrown around. It was the outer layer only, so my stuff did not come out. But you would think that employee will not throw next bag if one got ripped. But I guess they are not competent enough to think logically.
    They need more staff. I am sure they are questioned by manager if they take longer to load and unload.

  • Kellie on 2014-04-28 2:12:37 PM

    As you can see from the discussion; there could be orders that were given to make short cuts due to time constraints, it could be the 'culture' of the organization and the employer could be fully aware that this is a practice the baggage handlers have been doing for a long time with the employer's knowledge (this one just happened to get caught on tape by a passenger). This is why I am saying the employer should be doing a fair and impartial investigation before they outright make a comment about the employees being fired. And, Lisa; you are right - it is not just Air Canada - that's why I'm saying it could be a violation of the SOP's for sure - but one that has gone on for some time. You won't really know until a complete, fair and unbiased investigation gets to the bottom of it.

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