Airport workers could strike by Tuesday

Union gives St. John's International Airport Authority three days' notice of intent to walk off the job.

Ninety employees clear runways, do building and equipment maintenance, provide emergency services

Workers at St. John's International Airport could be on the picket lines as early as next week. (CBC)

Almost 100 workers at St. John’s International Airport could be on strike as early as Tuesday morning.

The employees are represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) Local 90916.

They say they're prepared to set up picket lines as of 5 a.m. Tuesday if negotiations with a mediator this weekend don't fulfill their demands.

"The employer’s intransigence at the table gives us no choice," said UCTE regional vice-president Wayne Fagan, in a written statement.

"We have a mandate from our members to achieve a fair and equitable agreement that contains no concessions."

The workers voted 100 per cent in favour of a mandate for strike action on Thursday night.

Late Friday, the union gave the airport 72 hours' notice of strike action, as required under federal law.

"We remain ready and willing to negotiate, and hope to reach agreement before Tuesday morning," Fagan stated.

The St. John's International Airport Authority said it also hopes to reach a deal with workers.

"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," Keith Collins, the authority's president and CEO, said in a news release. 

"With negotiations continuing throughout the weekend, we remain hopeful that a tentative agreement can be reached."

The authority noted airports are considered essential services, and management will try to maintain normal operations in the event of any job action. The authority says it expects minimal disruption to passenger travel.

Wage increase

The union says employees have not had a wage increase in four years and want remuneration bringing them in line with comparable international airports.

UCTE Local 90916 workers do runway clearing, building and equipment upkeep, and provide fire, security and emergency services at the airport.