No progress made in airport strike talks

Daniel
Daniel MacEachern
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Striking maintenance and emergency workers picket the main access road to St. John’s International Airport Thursday. The workers are members of PSAC, the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
— Photo by
Gary Hebbard/The telegram

A picket by striking airport workers stretched through a third day with no progress in contract talks — in fact, no negotiations.

“The way the process works, if the mediator thinks we should go back to the table, he’ll inform us, but he went back a couple of days ago to Fredericton, so there’s no movement that way,” said Wayne Fagan, regional vice-president for the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees local 90916.

But a spokeswoman for the airport said talks can continue any time the union wants.

“We have indicated to them that we are open and available to negotiate at any time,” said Marie Manning, spokeswoman for the St. John’s airport authority.

About 85 workers — who provide operational and maintenance services, including runway clearing, building upkeep and emergency services — hit the picket line Tuesday morning. Workers have been without a collective agreement since 2009 and haven’t had a wage increase in four years. Management says the union’s most recent demand — a 58 per cent increase over four years, front-loaded with a 34 per cent increase in the first year — is unreasonable.

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Union of Canadian Transportation Employees

Geographic location: Fredericton

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • EdB
    September 18, 2012 - 21:03

    There is very little background information in this article to enable anyone to make an informed decision about this strike. Although I am normally reluctant to support any strike activity there are times that a strike is one of the few options left for employees to use. In my opinion the fact that there has been no signed contract since 2009 is not a valid reason to strike. What's important is wages and working conditions compared to similar employees in the local private sector. I would think a front end loaded increase of 34% as part of an overall 58% increase over 4 years is most likely ridiculous. I somehow doubt that the airport workers need that kind of increase to reach parity with the local labour market.

    • Brett
      September 19, 2012 - 10:26

      And yet - a 34% increase in wages is what Danny Williams signed for nurses, garbage collectors et al years ago. You should look at wage increases for government employees and other public sector workers for the last 6 years + compare that to what these employees are making, and projected to make before you make a statement. We do need to know historical movements on salaries too though.

  • a business man
    September 16, 2012 - 11:11

    honestly, who outside of newfoundland really cares about this strike. There are more important things going on in the world, like the NHL lockout, today's NFL games and the release of the iPhone 5. In the grand scheme of these things, this strike, and these workers are of little importance.

    • DW
      September 17, 2012 - 13:47

      To Business Man: If your opinion is that this strike is of so little importance, why do you keep writing about it? Enough with the gibberish!

    • a business man
      September 18, 2012 - 07:24

      I am actively complaining about it because it bothers me that workers have the legal right to restrict/delay access to the airport. I have the right to NOT care about these workers, but they force people to wait before accessing the airport. And I am not just complaining about it here. When a client comes into my office and looking for advice as to where to invest, I use situations like this to demonstrate the newfoundland is not a good place to invest. Investors just want to make money, they don't want labour to deal with labour disputes. Simply put, while workers' right are important, workers' right should not infringe on the right of other citizens who have the broader right to do what they want.

    • Brett
      September 18, 2012 - 10:39

      And yet there's been no deal in place since 2009? And *finally* there's a strike. One would think that management has been sticking its head in the ground not looking ahead to this problem, and wow - it's biting them on the rear. Prudent investors and a good board of directors would maybe have avoided this situation. A strong management team eliminates the needs of a union. Don't complain just about the workers - complain about the poor leadership that has allowed unions to be the "problems" they are today. PS. Business Man - aren't you glad the free wifi from the airport reaches you while you wait?

  • Brett
    September 14, 2012 - 11:09

    58% increase from what base salary? Are we talking 25k/yr, 40k/yr, 60k/yr? Note that these employees have not seen any salary change in the past 3 years. What are the union's comparables? How about a little more meat on this article.

    • Eli
      September 14, 2012 - 15:48

      Agree. Did their past agreement expire in 2009 and they havn't been able to negotiate since? And if all Fagan can refer is to the booming economy on the Avalon without any facts he might be a union spokseman but hopefully nothing more. More meat on the story both from the union and media is an appropriate request.

  • WILLY
    September 14, 2012 - 10:25

    @DW.. I would suggest that everybody ignore the wanna be business man.

  • Paul
    September 14, 2012 - 07:33

    If they block the entrance to the airport, arrest them.

    • a business man
      September 14, 2012 - 07:50

      well said! the collective bargaining rights on one group should not impede the activities of another group. Surely, there are some people who do not care about the these workers and who just want to fly. Like it or not, these people have the right not to care, and the right to go on with their life as they walk passed the strikers.

    • DW
      September 14, 2012 - 09:02

      Should picketers in all strikes be arrested or only the ones you choose? These workers are not preventing people from crossing their picket line.

    • KD
      September 14, 2012 - 10:19

      Yes these people have the right to strike but under the laws of the land as it is with any strike the strikers have no right to block or even slow down traffic the picket line is informational and if anyone chooses to stop and recieve information or take a flyer they are free to do so