St. John's mayor calls for talks to end airport strike

Mayor Dennis O'Keefe wants management and unionized workers to get back to the table in the labour dispute at St. John's International Airport.

O'Keefe wants both sides to get back to the table, citing impact of strike on city

St. John's International Airport has been hit by a strike involving workers who handle such tasks as equipment maintenance and fire services. (CBC)

Mayor Dennis O’Keefe wants management and unionized workers to get back to the table in the labour dispute at St. John’s International Airport.

"The city’s economy is extremely dependent on the airport and we have already seen definite economic repercussions from the current labour dispute," O'Keefe said in a statement.

St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe wants talks to resume to help resolve a strike at the capital city's airport. (CBC)

O’Keefe cited a cancelled convention that would have brought 300 people to the capital city. He put the estimated economic loss to the local business community at $300,000.

The mayor says other large meetings have also been cancelled and moved elsewhere due to the strike.

"There is also the inconvenience to the traveller — visitor, resident and business — to take into consideration," O’Keefe said.

"We have a thriving tourism economy and depend on the airport as our first point of contact with many visitors to our community."

Labour impasse

The St. John’s International Airport Authority and the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) have been locked in a labour impasse since workers walked off the job Sept. 11.

Money and a host of other issues are separating the two sides.

The 85 members of UCTE Local 90916 provide operational services, including runway clearing, buildings and equipment upkeep, fire, security and emergency services, as well as administrative and billing services.

An agreement on essential workers is in place to keep the airport running during the dispute.