POLITICS

Strike averted at Vancouver airport after tentative four-year deal struck

08/30/2013 12:46 EDT | Updated 10/30/2013 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - Travellers at Vancouver's airport have been spared from having to dodge picket lines after a tentative agreement averted strike action by nearly 350 unionized workers.

The deal was reached two hours before the strike deadline at 12:01 a.m. PT on Friday.

A wage increase is part of the four-year deal, but details of the agreement between the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Vancouver Airport Authority won't be released until members ratified it.

Dave Clark, spokesman for the Union of Transportation Employees, a division of the public service alliance, said the bargaining team is unanimously recommending the deal to workers who will vote on it in mid-September.

"They get to see it, they get to make a decision if they're going to accept it," he said. "We feel that with two hours to go before a strike it was the best deal they could get at that time."

The union represents employees in various jobs including emergency response, customer care and runway maintenance.

Vancouver Airport Authority spokeswoman Anne Murray said she believes the agreement is a fair and equitable solution for both parties.

"We've been negotiating with the Public Service Alliance of Canada since April so there's been a number of proposals and counter proposals," Murray said.

"The last two days have been pretty intense negotiating with the assistance of a federal mediator, and last night the tentative agreement was reached."

Members had voted 83 per cent in favour of strike action to back contract demands and on Tuesday, the union issued 72-hour strike notice, making job action possible on Friday morning.

Clark said earlier this week that the main issues included what the union considers concessions that the airport authority wants in a new contract, particularly around wages for trades people and procedures for contracting out work.

The union also wanted new provisions to allow some workers to extend their daily hours in order to work four days a week instead of five.

Workers have been without a contract since last December.