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Possible strike at YVR starting Friday

RICHMOND (NEWS1130) – Strike notice has been served at YVR.

About 300 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees could be off the job by this Friday. They provide a range of services including emergency response, customer care, runway maintenance, airfield and approach lighting, and passenger loading operations.

Travel expert Claire Newell says this could cause huge problems, since the Labour Day long weekend is such a busy one. “So many people are coming either to or from Vancouver after their last-ditch summer getaways.”

“[There are] universities right across the country kids from Vancouver or BC have to get to, and others [are] coming to the likes of SFU and UBC,” she adds.

Dave Clark represents the airport workers and says if job action begins, expect delays. “Realistically, the essential services allows nine gates to be down at a time, out of 60. The airport is running at 100 per cent right now, so that is an automatic delay if any gate breaks down.”

“If one gate goes down, that’s a plane per hour at that gate that could be waiting… for an hour. So, in a full day, that would be 24 hours of delays — 24 flights,” he adds.

Clark says its up to the airport to pull back from its calls for concessions.

The union says members felt like they had no choice. Eleventh-hour negotiations are scheduled for later this week.

Mixed feelings from those traveling out of YVR

When people hear the potential for delays they want to know when and for how long.

“You’ll have to find a hotel somewhere and that costs money and it’s frustrating and people on the other end are annoyed because they are there to pick you up and you don’t show up,” says one woman.

Other people say if they do have a tight schedule and they end up missing work because of the strike, there would be big problems for them.

This traveller plans to go with the flow.

“If I had to stay two or three weeks that would be a concern but if I had to spend another day or two or have to be re-routed somewhere else, I’m actually okay with that.”

Below is a statement on YVR’s website:

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Local 20221 issued a notice to strike commencing at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 30, 2013 at Vancouver International Airport.

Airport operations are not affected by the notice to strike.

Vancouver International Airport will remain open and operating in a safe and efficient manner should a strike occur.

Federal regulations require essential employees be in place to ensure the safety and security of travellers and airport facilities.  The Airport Authority and the PSAC have a Maintenance of Activities Agreement, reached on August 23, which ensures employees in these essential roles will continue to work alongside management.

The next scheduled dates for bargaining between Vancouver Airport Authority and the PSAC are set for August 28 and 29, 2013. The Airport Authority remains committed to reaching a negotiated settlement that is fair for both parties.

All updates about airport operations will be posted on www.yvr.ca under Latest Info.