Letters to the Editor

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Fredericton Airport strike: Union accuses management of stripping firefighters of insignia

FREDERICTON - Union of Canadian Transportation Employees local 60601, representing firefighters and other workers at Fredericton International Airport, have been on strike since February 13, 2012. They are calling for airport management, especially CEO David Innes, to reverse changes at the airport that have had a serious impact on morale and working conditions.

Striking firefighters will gather on Friday, April 6th, at 10 am in front of the airport, in uniform, showing where, they say, their professional insignia were removed on order of Mr. Innes. Backed by other airport staff they will share stories of what they consider attacks on the professionalism of airport staff, reducing the professionalism of the service they are able to provide the public.

Said firefighter Tony Cooper, "Airport firefighters are firefighters. Same as the people who come to help if you have a house fire. But we have specialized training for the extreme conditions you can find in a fire at an airport, or in an airplane. What we don't understand is why we have no training budget, to keep our skills at the highest level, and now management has forced us to remove the symbol of our professional pride: our insignia."

The union claims airport management is attempting to force all airport employees to be designated as 'Airport Operations Specialists' which means firefighters would fix snow ploughs and mechanics would fight fires.

"We want to get back to work, we need management to recognize the importance of respecting professional boundaries, to recognize the importance of a training budget, and to create a positive atmosphere where we can all work to make this a better airport for the people of Fredericton," said union representative Faye Downing.

Fredericton International Airport CEO David Innes was unavailable for comment on the union accusations when contacted by this publication today. 

The union decided to hold their meeting on a public holiday to minimize disruptions. The union is asking the traveling public to use Moncton or Saint John airports for the duration of the strike.