A federal mediator has been called in after contract talks between the union representing frontline airport workers and YVR broke down this week.
Approximately 300 staff — including emergency response, arrivals customer care, runway and baggage conveyor maintenance and passenger loading operations staff — are affected by the dispute which, according to their union, is over wage rates, variable hours of work, protection against harassment and bullying, sick leave and medical benefits. The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)/Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) claims the Vancouver Airport Authority (VAA) isn’t willing to consider bringing its members’ wages in line with other Canadian airports.
Bargaining between the PSAC/UCTE and the VAA broke down this week and a federal conciliation officer has been called in to help get a new contract.
“We tabled a fair proposal that reflected the value of the work our members perform at the airport,” said Bob Jackson, PSAC regional executive vice president for B.C.
“Unfortunately, management declined to meaningfully discuss the issue. The (Vancouver) Airport Authority flat out refused to consider an increase that was in line with other airports.
“Instead, they gave our bargaining team an ultimatum and left us no choice but to apply for conciliation.”
Conciliation is expected to begin in January, with the union’s bargaining team hopeful a new contract can be achieved.
The union has, however, hinted that some labour disruption may happen in the spring.
“Vancouver Airport was recently named the best airport in the world, is highly profitable, and prides itself on being a good corporate citizen,” said Dave Clark, UCTE regional vice president, Pacific.
“Our members are disappointed…particularly given the high cost of living in the Lower Mainland.”
Anne Murray, VAA’s vice president of marketing and communications, said the airport is still “committed to working with the PSAC to reach a mutually beneficial collective agreement.”
“The Airport Authority continues to bargain in good faith. We remain prepared to meet with the PSAC, now with the assistance of the federal conciliation officer, once appointed.”