St. John's airport labour dispute ramps up

St. John's is losing a convention because of the strike at the city's airport, as workers take aim at the CEO of the authority that runs the transportation hub.

Convention cancelled for capital city; striking workers call for CEO's departure

St. John's losing major convention because of labour dispute at city's airport 1:41

St. John's is losing a convention because of the strike at the city's airport, as workers took aim Thursday at the CEO of the authority that runs the transportation hub.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour is cancelling its annual convention next month as a show of solidarity for the strikers. 

It doesn't want its members crossing the picket line.

"I've got a question for the airport authority — what the hell do they have against good paying jobs for the next generation of workers?" Federation of Labour president Lana Payne said.

Meanwhile, the dispute took on a personal tone Thursday, as striking workers gathered in the reception area of airport authority CEO Keith Collins’s office, chanting for his departure.

Collins was unmoved by the display.

"Rallies and parades really don't move the parties closer to any sort of a deal," he said. 

"I'd much rather see PSAC's energy being spent at the bargaining table to get our employees off the street, rather than on parades to keep them on the street."

The strike is into its third week, and there are no face-to-face talks planned.

Union negotiator Chris Bussey said it’s OK to single out Collins.

"He writes messages to the members saying that they're flexible and they want to negotiate, talks to the members like he's their friend, but he's not showing it when they're at the table," Bussey said.

There remains a gap between the two sides on money and a host of other issues.