St. John's airport workers accept offer, end marathon strike
PSAC workers make major gains in wage parity with Halifax counterparts
The 10-month strike at St. John's International Airport is over, as maintenance and emergency services workers voted to accept an offer that brings a substantial wage hike.
Of the 60 striking workers who took part in the ratification vote, only five chose to reject a deal tabled by the airport authority that also includes increases in benefits. Voting concluded on Monday night.
The workers, represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, launched a strike in September with a mission to gain wage parity with workers in Halifax.
The new deal raises wages by nearly 40 per cent over a seven-year period, retroactive to 2009, and means the St. John's workforce will earn about 92 per cent of the Halifax benchmark. A tentative deal was hammered out earlier this month.
"By and large, most people are pleased with the outcome," said union rep Chris Bussey.
"Most people are happy to finally achieve a collective agreement after four years and get back to work, and get back to doing what they do well."
The strike was the longest in PSAC's history, and often brought bitter feelings to the fore. Striking workers at various times took to picketing the offices and even homes of members of the authority's board.
The airport stayed open during the strike, although much maintenance work has reportedly been deferred. The airport largely functioned during the winter months because of the emergency services provisions in the contract that allowed the authority to call in some strikers for such duties as snowclearing.
Bussey said improvements were made to the airport authority's plans for pensions and job security.
"I think we were fairly successful in limiting what would happen with those concessions," he said.
The new contract brings increases to shift premiums, and those working overtime will get meal allowances.
Workers began cleaning up the picket lines, to prepare for head back to work on Wednesday.
With files from Ariana Kelland