Strike looms at Vancouver airport

Key service staff demand job security, work-life balance

A Labour Day strike hangs in the air at the Vancouver airport after its workers voted in favour of job action.

Approximately 300 key service staff at the Vancouver Airport Authority — who work in emergency response, international arrivals customer care, runway maintenance, airfield and approach lighting, passenger loading operations, maintenance and administrative services — could walk off the job as early as the end of August.

Fearing their jobs could be contracted out to a new breed of seasonal workers, the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) — a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) — said on Aug. 12 that job protection and work flexibility need to be on the bargaining table.

“We felt we had no choice but to take a strike vote,” said Dave Clark, UCTE’s regional vice-president. “YVR says they're one of British Columbia's top employers, but are refusing to discuss our demands around work-life balance and job security. They also want to weaken the apprenticeship provisions in our collective agreement and create a two-tier wage system by creating a new class of 'seasonal' workers. We're prepared to strike if our key issues aren't dealt with. The next move is up to the employer.”

Earlier this month, about 70 workers who fuel jet aircraft at the YVR airport ratified a new collective agreement with their employer, Globe Ground Fuel Services. The fuelers’ three-year contract includes wage and shift premium increases as well as improvements to the language surrounding hours of work, overtime, seniority and staffing.

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