Airport workers’ bargaining talks stall

Strike vote could be considered if conciliation fails

Stalled bargaining talks at the Victoria International Airport may go to conciliation.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s come to this. They still have a chance to settle a deal,” said Dave Clark, regional vice-president pacific for the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees.

The union’s 30 or so Public Service Alliance of Canada members at the airport work in emergency response, customer care, runway maintenance, computer systems and other jobs.

Victoria Airport Authority CEO Geoff Dickson hopes the federal conciliation officer can move talks ahead.

“We’re hopeful it will speed up negotiations and we can reach an agreement that’s equitable for both sides,” Dickson said.

Among the union’s top issues is wage parity with workers at the Vancouver International Airport. Clark said vehicle operators in Victoria make $6,000 a year less than their Vancouver counterparts. For IT workers, it’s $15,000 a year less.

“Even though the cost living quite similar there’s a big difference in pay,” he said.

Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt has 90 days to appoint a conciliator.

Should mediation fail, both groups must take a 90 day cooling off period before the employer, VAA, can lock employees out, or before employees can withdraw their services.

Clark said the union plans to hold a strike vote in the future.

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