© Keith Gosse/The Telegram
St. John's airport.
Workers at St. John’s International Airport — who provide operational and maintenance services, including runway clearing, building and equipment upkeep, and fire, security and emergency services — voted 100 per cent in favour of strike action during a meeting Thursday evening in St. John’s.
The 90 workers are members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s (PSAC) Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) Local 90926.
“The bargaining committee has the full support of the membership,” says UCTE regional vice-president Wayne Fagan. “Airport workers are strike-ready.”
A news release notes that negotiations broke off recently between PSAC and the St. John's International Airport Authority. The union says workers have not seen a wage increase in four years and are seeking an economic package that will bring them in line with industry standards at comparable international airports.
The union has been without a collective agreement since 2009 and says the employer has tabled significant concessions.
“The bargaining committee is eager to reach a fair and equitable agreement and remains willing to negotiate,” says Fagan.
The parties will continue to work with a mediator throughout the weekend. In the event that an agreement is not reached, the union will give the airport the 72 hours notice required under federal law before it takes strike action.
Meantime, Keith Collins, President and CEO of St. John’s International Airport Authority, said both sides have been negotiating a new collective agreement over the last year and negotiations have previously been scheduled for this weekend.
“The Airport Authority is committed to negotiating a new collective agreement that achieves the best balance between the rights and interests of its employees and the Authority’s responsibility to affordably manage the organization’s future,”
“With negotiations continuing throughout the weekend, we remain hopeful that a tentative agreement can be reached.”
The authority notes that airports are considered essential services. In the event of a strike, the airport authority’s management team will be focused on maintaining airport operations as close to normal as possible, with the assistance of the unionized employees who are required to provide essential services. Personnel will be in place to meet all Transport Canada regulations for safety and security.
Collins said airline operations will not be impacted by a strike and it is anticipated that there will be minimal disruption to passenger travel.