Union fears slow, gradual death for 5 Wing Goose Bay
Seeks definitive word from Ottawa on future of military base
The union which represents civilian workers at 5 Wing Goose Bay says cuts to jobs and services this week do not bode well for the future of the base.
"The worst-case scenario is that Goose Bay could be reduced down to a commercial airport, and no military presence at all," said John MacLennan, president of the Union of National Defence Employees.
Serco, the company that provides services for 5 Wing, eliminated 25 positions at the base this week.
For some, that means a blunt and unplanned layoff. Others, however, are being asked to volunteer for layoff or train for other positions, while some are eligible for early retirement.
News of the cuts comes just two weeks after a new agreement was signed with Serco's unionized workers.
It's also comes on the heels of Serco's announcement that its contract with the federal Department of National Defence is being extended by two years.
For its part, DND says the layoffs are linked to a review and update of what it needs to operate the base. For example, DND no longer requires extra personnel associated with low-level flight training, since that no longer occurs at the base.
Federal ministers have repeatedly insisted Ottawa is committed to maintaining operations at 5 Wing Goose Bay.
But MacLennan says the reduction in services and associated job losses this week fly in the face of that.
"Is it going to be a slow death that they're providing, by slowly getting rid of certain types of work and services that are being provided on the base? We want to know what we're dealing with," he said.
The cuts affect some firefighters, building maintenance workers, two air traffic positions, a weather forecaster, as well as cleaning and administrative staff.
The union says it is working with Serco to retain as much staff as possible.
Civilian employees at the base have been on edge for months. Last August, cuts to services that included the weather office were announced, but later reversed.