Airport to file complaint with federal labour relations board
The St. John's Airport Authority says it will file a formal complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board claiming the union representing 85 striking airport workers is not bargaining in good faith.
In a news release on Wednesday, the airport authority said PSAC has made no serious effort to settle the strike.
"PSAC is not respecting the collective bargaining process or their duty under the Canada Labour Code to negotiate a collective agreement in good faith," said Keith Collins, the president and CEO of the St. John's Airport Authority, in the released statement.
"While we continue to show flexibility on all the outstanding issues, the union has folded their arms and refused to engage. They will negotiate only if we remove all our issues and discuss only theirs. This is unacceptable. It is irresponsible. It is also not negotiating."
Talks collapsed on the day they started
Talks between striking workers at St. John's International Airport and their employer collapsed soon after they began on Tuesday, with each side blaming the other.
"[The union] returned to the bargaining table today, but it appears it was all for show," the airport authority said in a statement Tuesday night.
About 85 maintenance and emergency services workers have been on strike since Sept. 11, with Tuesday's meeting the first formal attempt since to resolve the strike, which is focused on such issues as wages and contract language.
The meeting involved a federal mediator and negotiators with the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents the strikers through the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees.
For its part, PSAC blamed airport management for scuttling the talks. In a statement Wednesday, it blamed the authority for being inflexible on what it called concessions in contract language.
"At the meeting, the union focused on the key issues of job security, contracting out and wage parity with workers at Halifax Airport," PSAC said in a statement.
"Unfortunately the employer refused to renew language that it had agreed to in three previous rounds of negotiations and made no substantive change to its wage proposal."
'Unacceptable and irresponsible'
The authority said, though, that it believes PSAC is not serious about ending the strike.
"Throughout the day, it was evident that the union was clearly not in a settlement mood and the authority is outraged that they failed to honour the commitment they made to the mayor and city council to negotiate all outstanding issues," the statement said.
"The union's response is completely unacceptable and irresponsible … PSAC wants this strike to continue."
The authority said the PSAC has yet to respond to a new proposal that was tabled on Nov. 21.
In September, the authority said that the union's key demand — wage parity with workers at larger airports such as Halifax — would translate into a pay hike of 58 per cent over four years. Before submitting a new proposal, the authority said it could afford an increase of 31 per cent over eight years.
Workers have been without a contract since 2009.