Officials at St. John's International Airport say they are fed up with striking workers, and they are accusing the picketers of repeatedly impeding traffic.
About 85 maintenance and emergency staff at the airport have been on strike since Sept. 11. The airport says few if any flights or travellers have been delayed, but picketers have been forcing vehicles involved in construction at the airport to wait for a police escort.
The airport authority said the strikers' actions are against the law, and on Friday a lawyer representing the airport sought a court injunction to limit traffic delays at the picket line.
"They do have a legal right to set up picket lines and to pass information," said Keith Collins, president and CEO of the St. John's International Airport Authority. "But it is not legal to impede traffic of any sort, in any way, at any time, for any period of time, whether it be 30 seconds or 30 minutes."
Picketing 'reasonable', says union rep
"We've been really reasonable with regards to our picketing. We've been operating a legal picket line since we've been here," said Chris Bussey, the local president of the union representing the striking workers.
'I think we've operated a fairly tame legal picket line.'—Chris Bussey, union negotiator
"From my view I think we've operated a fairly tame legal picket line."
Airport officials said their surveillance video shows delays caused by the picketers are ramping up, particularly around construction equipment.
"We've tolerated some delays, but it's now time to ask for the court's assistance to control behaviour that is clearly illegal," said Collins.
Judge delays injunction
The airport's lawyer went to court on Friday armed with affidavits and DVDs to seek the injunction.
However, the union's lawyer argued that workers are on a legal strike and essential services are in place, so there was no emergency.
The judge has agreed to hear arguments from both the airport authority and the union again on Oct. 17.