Anne-Marie Taylor, Receiver/Tank Farm Operator, Calgary International Airport

The airport is like a ghost town. Our aviation fueling area of the airport is run by a consortium of the major airlines and some of the cargo haulers. It controls the facilities and all the equipment. We are responsible for fueling all the planes, driving trucks, working in the office and in a below surface area called the tank farm.

In spite of the fact that these big companies are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the facilities, we as individual workers took on the issue of safety during the pandemic. I don't let any safety issues slide. I am a member of the Teamsters Union and was active in my union in the telecommunications industry.

Behind the scenes the consortium is calling the shots and there are constant attempts to erode our working conditions.

Health and safety conditions have been nonexistent until very recently. Our most vigilant employees have been women. Right from the beginning, a woman part-time employee at the tank farm set an example by wearing a mask. I brought in cleaning supplies and disinfected every possible surface. On our own some of us started wearing masks, but neither our company, nor the consortium, nor the government at that point made mask wearing mandatory. As the pandemic progressed, parents of some of our co-workers died from COVID-19, and later on some of our co-workers and their spouses contacted COVID-19. At that point some safety procedures, some of which were not practical within our workspace, were brought in, and still no mask mandate.

We have contact with each other and other airport employees and with the truck drivers delivering fuel. Hundreds of truckers lost their jobs, and those still working deserve to be safe. I alerted all the truckers that I could when we had a tank farm worker who tested positive, so they could take precautions. I encouraged my co-workers to do the same. Every trucker was told until the employee who had COVID came back to work. That was at the time of the first case we had. Again, no responsibility was taken by our employer or the consortium! Finally some safety procedures were put in place.

It has only been in the last few weeks that a safety audit regarding COVID-19 has been put in place. Training courses have taken place on safety but in confined spaces, well into the pandemic, where the contract trainer was not even wearing a mask. Those of us who realize the necessity continue to lead by example, and will continue to do so.

What has also been helpful is the example set by Air Canada workers, who always follow the safety protocols. We interact with them on the tarmac and I am pretty sure that they helped to get the consortium to finally enforce stricter measures in our area. It shows how we all have to work together and stand up for each others' rights.

This article was published in

 March 8, 2021 - No. 14

Article Link:


Website:   Email: