FREDERICTON - Striking workers at the Fredericton International Airport claim management is attempting to force all airport employees to be designated as 'Airport Operations Specialists'. Employees would be crosstrained to peform other duties that would see firefighters fix snow ploughs and mechanics fight fires.
This potential downgrade in positions has seriously impacted worker morale and working conditions. But even more concerning to employees is while they've been out on strike, management has taken over many of their duties. Strikers at the airport today said this greatly jeopardizes the travelling public. Inexperienced managers are performing the services of qualified crews employed for emergencies, maintenance, and runway repair.
"We have an eyewitness account that that actually resulted in a vehicle accident [on the runway] when the vehicle was operated by management," said Mike Ripley, the safety and security supervisor at the Fredericton airport.
Christine Collins, the national president of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE), said in the video below, she has real concerns about management doing the work of employees because Transport Canada regulations call for qualified personnel to perform airport services.
The union is calling for airport management, especially CEO David Innes, to reverse changes at the airport not just for the sake of employees, but to end the threat to public safety. Union leaders want management to get back to the bargaining table before there is an accident or tragic loss of life.
"Hopefully they'll come back to the table...that's the hope," said Wayne Fagan, the UCTE's Regional Vice-President Atlantic representative.
Union of Canadian Transportation Employees local 60601, representing firefighters and other workers at Fredericton International Airport, have been on strike since February 13, 2012.