Possible settlement in airport strike

ST. JOHN’S  – The Public Service Alliance of Canada welcomes federal Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt’s initiative for proposing non-binding recommendations.  Clearly the Minister recognizes that a negotiated settlement is possible.  PSAC has offered clear relief to the employer’s concessionary demands. The union continues to be willing and available to reach a fair and reasonable settlement.

Negotiations to end a nine-month strike at St. John’s International Airport Authority ended abruptly on June 18 when the Employer’s negotiating team walked away from the bargaining table just minutes after reaching substantial movement with the Union on wages.

“We are absolutely appalled that the Airport Authority would break off talks when we were so close to reaching a deal that would end the strike,” said Chris Aylward, the National Executive Vice-President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

“We don’t know why the airport does not want to reach an agreement,” said Mr. Aylward, who personally put in a call to Chief Executive Officer Keith Collins after talks broke off. Mr. Collins has not returned Mr. Aylward’s call.

“At this stage of bargaining, and after a nine-month strike, we would expect the Employer to take negotiations as seriously as the Uniondoes,” Mr. Aylward said

The parties had been in protracted talks to end the standoff since mid-May when federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt called the parties together and asked them to find a resolution to the dispute.

The 85 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada have been on a legal strike since September 11, 2012.

The workers have been without a contract since December 31, 2009, and have had no wage increases December, 2008.

The Union bargaining team had been working very hard to find the compromises that would bring the strike to an end, Mr. Aylward said.

PSAC had been seeking increases that would bring their wages in line with comparable international airports in Atlantic Canada and reflect the strong and the healthy economic situation of St. John’s International Airport Authority. .

The Unionremains committed to negotiating a settlement that offers a fair economic package for its members. The Union’s last position on wages when the Employer walked away from the table represented a weighted average increase of 39% over a seven-year agreement, a significant move since the Union had been seeking a much shorter deal.

The Airport Authority’s last offer was 37.5% over the same period of time.

Mr. Aylward noted that although the Unionhas substantially reduced its wage proposal and has moved to address the Employer’s business concerns, the Airport is continuing to demand significant concessions on job security and contracting out. The threat to contract out the work of airport employees was repeated in the Airport’s press release of June 19.

 “Clearly we need the Airport’s decision-makers to be at the table,” he said. Mr. Aylward is in St. John’sand has offered to participate directly in the talks if Mr. Collins will do the same.


Contact Lesley Thompson, Communications Officer, PSAC, 902-471-6201