Job cuts at 5 Wing could cost lives: union

Bonnie Learning
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Four of six positions at weather station being eliminated

Four of six jobs at the weather office at 5 Wing Goose Bay are being cut. — Photo by The Labradorian

Impending cuts to the 5 Wing weather station will negatively affect Ground Search and Rescue in Labrador and could cost lives.

That’s according to Bernie Bolger, president of Local 90125.

The news of the job cuts comes days after Serco and DND signed a two-year extension to the current service contract.

“The union was informed there would be a reduction in the new two-year extension contract,” said Bolger.

Bolger said the base service provider, Serco, was informed this week that four of six jobs will be chopped at the weather office at 5 Wing.

“From what we understand, the weather office will be scaled back to two employees, with a Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule,” said Bolger on Wednesday afternoon, minutes before heading into a meeting with town officials to discuss the matter.

“This will have a negative impact on ground search and rescue (GSR), the community and Labrador as a whole.”

Bolger said GSR cannot operate without up-to-date weather briefings.

“This essentially means that GSR will not be able to operate after 5 p.m. weekdays and not at all on weekends.”

Bolger said other cuts include reductions in aircraft-resting systems and Precision Approach Radar.

“This is just the start of the federal government getting rid of 5 Wing Goose Bay,” said Bolger.

Bolger noted union officials are setting up meetings with politicians soon to try to get the decision reversed.

 

‘Still waiting’

Stan Oliver, the deputy mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, said council was shocked to learn of the cuts.

“Of course, we hate to see anyone in the community lose their jobs, as that’s always a bad thing,” he said.

“But to expect to operate ground search and rescue operations under those timelines? It doesn’t make sense.”

Oliver agrees with Bolger that this is part of a bigger plan by the federal government to not come across with their promises to 5 Wing and the town.

“They promised us back in 2006-2007 that they would find an operational requirement for 5 Wing Goose Bay, and today, we are still waiting for that plan,” he said.

“This is just another strategy by the federal government not to come through with their commitments to the council and this town.”

Oliver said whatever development happens in Labrador can come and go, but the base is here to stay.

“The base has been here since 1942 and we want to keep it,” he said.

 

The Labradorian

Organizations: Local 90125

Geographic location: Labrador, Goose Bay, Happy Valley

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