Airport workers give strike notice

Daniel MacEachern
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Aircraft from the three major airlines serving St. John’s International Airport on a daily basis are seen on the terminal ramp. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

Workers at St. John’s International Airport have served airport management with 72 hours’ strike notice.

Members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Union of Canadian Transportation Employees Local 90916 voted in favour of strike action at a meeting Thursday night, with formal strike notice given Friday evening, although negotiations are continuing through the weekend.

Union regional vice-president Wayne Fagan had said whether they serve strike notice to the airport authority will depend on how negotiations go.

“If it’s going smoothly, then we don’t need to put in a strike notice. And if not, then we will,” he said Friday afternoon, before strike notice was given, noting that the union has been without a collective agreement since 2009.

Workers haven’t seen a wage increase for four years, he said. “The core issue is to bring us up to a market standard. And what that market is, well it’s the airport sector market, and it’s also the local market. And our people are behind.”

Marie Manning, spokeswoman for the airport authority, said airport operations would be only minimally disrupted in the event of a strike.

“We do have a maintenance of operations agreement in place with the union,” she said, “Because we’re considered an essential service, we will have minimal staff available to provide those essential services, in addition to the airport authority’s management team that will be focused on airport operations as well. Our intention is to keep operations as close to normal as possible, and certainly there will be enough personnel available to meet all Transport Canada regulations for safety and security.”

Fagan acknowledged the union’s requirement to provide essential services puts it in a tougher bargaining position, but dismissed management’s suggestion that it would be business as usual at the airport during a strike.

“We have to provide essential services. Will it be business as usual at the airport? I don’t think so,” he said, pointing to an airport strike in 2003 that lasted nearly three months, delaying flights and having other indirect effects. “We had conventions that were cancelled. The nurses’ union were going to have a convention in St. John’s. They cancelled it then because they weren’t going to go across picket lines. It’s all the whole spinoff effect of that, the indirect impact of whatever happens in the picket line.”

That picket line is anticipated to be on the access road to the terminal building, airport officials said Friday evening, and advised that if a strike occurs, passengers should allow extra time to get to the airport for flights.

Twitter: TelegramDaniel



Organizations: International Airport, Public Service Alliance of Canada, Union of Canadian Transportation Employees Local Transport Canada

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Recent comments

  • a business man
    September 12, 2012 - 07:06

    Yes Sealcove, I have a family. I have a wonderful family that I am able to provide any and everything for as a result of my cut throat, bottom-line minded business practices. I work very hard in my life to provide the best of the best for my family, so I am not sure why you would feel sorry for them. Everything I do is for them. I would never outsource their job. I don't understand why my treatment of unskilled uneducated non-valuable workers leads you to feel sorry for my family. I would never treat my family (or educated workers) the way I treat my unskilled uneducated workers. I like my family, they are important to me and I care about them. My unskilled uneducated workers are not important to me and I don't care about them. Do you really think my family would be willing to go with less so that my employees could have more? Insteading of buying my kids their own condo when they go away from university, should I pay my employees more and then have my kids rent? I think not. Instead of buying my kid a luzury car, should I pay my employees more and then have my kids drive a used car? Hell NO. My companies exist for the benefit for myself and my family, not for the benefit of my employees. You shouldn't feel bad for my family. They have everything they want. And more. My children have been sent on charity and humanitarian in third world countries - just an example of how I use my money to help others while boosting my kids' resume.

  • saelcove
    September 11, 2012 - 11:37

    One question for business man do you have a family and if you do i feel sorry for them

  • Turry from town
    September 10, 2012 - 10:51

    Businessman,I'm glad I don't work for a pompous,arrogant, look down the length of your nose at people,owner like you.The most valuable resourse you have are your employees.

    • a business man
      September 10, 2012 - 15:54

      NO, my employees are not my most valuable resource. My technology is my most important resource. Next valuable is the engineer that built this technology. The next valuable resource is the desk upon which the computer sits upon. The next valuable resource is the chair that the unskilled workers sits on. Then, certainly less important than the desk and the chair is the unskilled uneducated employee who does a job that requires 10 minutes of training that will never be paid more that the lowest legal wage. That is how I run my company, and this is how I regard my unskilled uneducated workers. they are just tools, used to do a job, and then discarded and replaced when a better cheaper more efficient version becomes available. I cannot treat my skilled educated engineer like this because he will leave and take his skills elsewhere. So he gets a 6 figure salary. The unskilled workers can leave at anytime and the company will still go on, so there is no reason to pay a wage that will garner employee loyalty. For the front-line, basic, menial work, I don't want loyal employees, I just want bodies to do their work and leave. If I really wanted or expected the unskilled uneducated workers to stay with me long term, then I would pay them more. But, unfortunately, they do a job for which employee retention is more of a liability than an asset. So in conclusion, in my business, the unskilled uneducated employee is certainly not the most important resource.

  • Huck
    September 09, 2012 - 23:20

    I travel quite frequently though the airport in St John's and I don't find the staff particularly attentive. They are just OK when compared to airport staff in many other Canadian destinations. Truthfully, I think many of the staff at St John's airport could benefit from an attitude adjustment in public service. Maybe after that they would be in a better position to ask for a raise.

  • cfa
    September 08, 2012 - 17:40

    You should be glad you have a job and stop whining about yourselves. Get over yourselves.

  • unionist leader
    September 08, 2012 - 15:56

    i am a unionist, and can some one from this union called PSAC explain why you would waste union dues to fly a banner over ottawa last week. i agree that you should be given a decend contract, but those in authority(leaders ) should give their heads a shake. what a joke these leaders have become to waste dues in this matter.

  • a business man
    September 08, 2012 - 11:35

    maybe they have not gotten any wage increases because they are not overly important to the operation. Maybe they just sweep floors or perform some other menial task that does not warrant a wage increase. Simply put, not every single worker deserves a raise because they go to work. In many of my companies, I have issued annual wage CUTS simply because I have invested in technology that performs the function of the worker. So when I get a machine to to the workers' job, I can pay them less because they are doing less.

    • willy
      September 09, 2012 - 17:32

      Does anybody have a shovel cause this clown is full of employer would ever talk like that.

    • Kristine
      September 09, 2012 - 21:35

      OMG...I can not believe I just read your take on whether there should be in increase in salaries or the most simplistic view, does one not have a right to feed their families and maintain a home in an " above poverty level? many people in society perform jobs you may consider " menial" but yet they contribute to the economy and choose to do so as opposed to receiving a handout from the goverment...cheers to those... as the cost of living increases so should the wages...maybe an investment in people as opposed to technology might soften your thoughts on...oh ..I don't know....being a human being ? caring more for people in all walks of life .It does not always have to be about making a buck at the expense of another.

    • a business man
      September 10, 2012 - 07:13

      of course one has a right to feed their family, but that does not mean that I should pay for it. Frankly, I would rather take that money and buy something extra for my family. thankfully, as the owner of the company, I can do just that. Yes, many people perform jobs that are menial, and they chose that life by not attaining an education. Therefore, their woes are their problem, not mine. As for investing in people vs. technology, that is likely the stupidest thing I have heard in a while. Technology does not demand a wage increase, or a wage, or a pension or health benefits. Therefore, I am always looking for ways to replace workers with technology, and I also advise other companies (for a fee) to do the same. I will never do this to important workers, like management, engineers, or accountants. The reality is that as consumers, we all can have more but paying less to unskilled uneducated workers who do menial jobs. I would gladly cut them out of the economy if it means more for my family. Sure, you may disagree, but fortunately everything I do is perfectly legal, so I will continue to do so as I see fit.

    • NLCitizen
      September 10, 2012 - 07:46

      Too bad we have minimum wage laws. You could open a sweat shop and make even more money.

    • a business man
      September 10, 2012 - 15:57

      no worries NLCITIZEN. there is no reason why I cannot operate in countries where I can pay lower wages. Canada's laws that force companies to pay high minimum wages is not a problem for me. Hell, I make money by advising clients (as a lawyer) on ways to find cheaper labour. So if and when NL or any other province increases the minimum wage, I should get atleast one new client out of it.

    • Brett
      September 11, 2012 - 06:12

      Anybody can take that view from a bird's eye vantage point. For any role. But that does not mean that this is the case here. When minimum wage has gone up during this period and across the province unskilled labour has inflated drastically - it is pretty interesting when one workplace that one could think uses unskilled labour would manage to hold down wages. Never mind that the top line of the business has been growing substantially, and those workers decided NOT to strike over the past 2 years. In my mind - having a unionized workplace without a contract is asking for service disruptions. Something that I would try like heck to avoid as an employer.

  • Brett
    September 08, 2012 - 10:35

    First brush makes me want to side with the union on this one - no agreement since 2009, and a lack of raises to keep up with inflation (which have hit the province significantly over the past 4 years). I wish there was more information here, but a 4 year hiatus from an increase in wages while the airport volume has been booming + wages across the province have gone up significantly. (look at minimum wage increases, and avg. salaries for St. John's). It would be nice to have some figures though - avg. wages, what the previous agreement that ended in 2009 had brought wages to and from what level it was at prior... Has there been an increase in employees in the union?