Employer action severely impacts St. John’s Airport’s ability to provide emergency response.

The Union of Canadian Transportation Employees has said the blame for slowdowns at the St. John’s International Airport lays squarely at the feet of airport management.

They claim that a campaign of harassment and discrimination aimed at firefighters to stifle their safety and regulatory compliance-related concerns has resulted in a chronic staffing shortage at the airport.

“These members are the last line of defense in the aviation safety net. Management’s decision to make cost-cutting a priority over the safety of the traveling public has resulted in them being unable to provide any type of emergency response and has had a direct impact on operations” said Chris Bussey Regional Vice President of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE).

He added that several airport firefighters have had to seek medical attention for the damage caused by the harassment complaint in what he called a “toxic workplace.”

“The situation at the airport has been deteriorating for years and it is making air travel less safe and airport firefighters sick,” said Chris Bussey Regional Vice President of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE). According to Bussey, management has flouted the rules governing safety and the protection of workers leading directly to harassment complaints and employees being directed by their doctors to stay off the job.

UCTE noted that there have been multiple incidents of safety violations at the St. John’s International Airport. When employees reported these safety management concerns, they were told to “shut up and keep working”. They did, however then file complaints that have now been upheld by an outside investigator.

“We call on management at the St. John’s International Airport to sit down with the union and develop a mutually agreeable solution to this situation,” said Bussey.

Theunion also believes that Transport Canada should investigate every safety-related complaint that members have brought forward at the airport and live up to their role as the regulator of airports and air travel in Canada.

“We call on the Minister of Transport to instruct airports to immediately follow and maintain all Canadian and International safety requirements when it comes to airport rescue and firefighting. We need action before it is too late,” added Bussey.