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Monday, 13 February 2012

Picket lines up at Fredericton airport after weekend negotiations fail
Canadian Press

A group of workers set up picket lines Monday at the Fredericton International Airport, but the facility said the labour dispute was not expected to affect travellers.

Unionized support staff and maintenance workers walked off the job around 5 a.m. after failing to reach a deal with the airport authority over the weekend.

The 24 workers, including electricians, mechanics, firefighters and administrative staff, are members of Local 60601 of the Canadian Transportation Employees Union.

Airport spokesman John Hamilton said no service disruptions were expected as most of the workers are considered essential.

“They're at least obligated legally to make sure the runways and everything are clear,” he said.

Anna Goguen, a union representative, said the mood on the picket line was positive, despite freezing temperatures around -24 C.

“A lot of the smiles are frozen because it's so cold, but the mood is very good,” Goguen said.

“People have been wanting to see some action for quite a while. The members have been very, very patient.”

Both sides met with a federal mediator throughout the weekend, but Goguen said the airport authority did not return to the table Sunday.

The union says the issues on the table are related to compensation and classification.

Goguen said about a dozen workers were picketing in shifts Monday in an effort to stay warm. People coming to the airport were talking to the workers and offering their support, she said.

“People are very tolerant,” said Goguen, adding that traffic into the airport was moving normally.

Goguen said while a number of striking union members are considered essential workers, not everyone will be required to work during the strike.

For example, she said there must always be one firefighter on duty at the airport. But other essential workers, including snow-clearing crew, will only be required to work as the weather dictates.

“After their shift, they're coming to help out on the picket line,” she said.

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