Around 90 workers at St. John’s International Airport have been on strike since September 11 to demand fair wages and stop concessions.
The workers—organized under the Union of Canadian Transport Employees (UCTE) Local 90916, part of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)—voted unanimously to strike after three years of negotiations with management fell through. The same workers at Halifax International are making 28-52 per cent more in wages, so St. John’s workers are fighting for a wage increase of 58 per cent over 4 years—with 31 per cent in the first, something they had tabled in June, to place them on par with the workers employed at airports of similar stature.
As UCTE National President Christine Collins explained, “St. John’s International Airport Authority (SJIAA) is in a very healthy position financially and is expanding to be similar to the size of Halifax Airport. And yet, our members have not received a wage increase since 2008. This is simply not fair.”
As if stymieing wages wasn’t enough for management, they are refusing to accept the workers’ demand of “no concessions.” This demand was a move by the workers to prevent attacks on pensions and benefits, which management undoubtedly plan to make. One example of such an attack is the plan to eliminate the “no lay-off” policy for new employees. Management has claimed that the actions of the workers constitute “reckless behavior,” and that their demands are “not realistic.”
The strike continues, and has received solidarity from the Nurse’s Union and the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour. We must continue to support the struggle for fair wages and benefits across Newfoundland and Labrador, which is an example to all workers. Solidarity to our striking brothers and sisters in St. John’s!