[HALIFAX, NS] — About 100 commissionaires marched on the Halifax Stanfield International Airport Tuesday afternoon.
For some of them, it was shortly before their shifts started.
With a possible strike in the near future, the 175 commissionaires showed some of their frustration with the negotiation process on Tuesday.
“We’re just waiting for our essential-service agreement and once we get that settled, then we give a 72-hour notice and we’re in a strike position,” said Jeannie Baldwin, regional executive vice-president of the public service alliance of Canada (PSAC).
Because their duties involve health-and-safety aspects, a fraction of commissionaires will still work if a strike is called, but the air-traveling public would still notice a disruption.
“Parking will be a big issue,” Baldwin said while walking behind the picketers to the airport Tuesday. “We look after the parking facilities here, the Park and Fly. That would be slowed down and I’m not sure if they’ll be able to offer that service up to a level it is now.”
Commissionaires are also the ones to clear away parking complaints like double-parked cars.
Wages and retroactive pay are at the centre of the dispute. PSAC and Commissionaires N.S. have been negotiating a contract since January 2009.
“They’re ex-military, ex-veterans affairs, ex-RCMP officers, those that have provided service to this country,” Baldwin said. “Some of them earn back wages which is equivalent to about $11.73 an hour, and most of them spend $40-$60 a week out of their salary just to cover gas. So wages have to improve.”
They’re also looking for retroactive pay from a court-imposed settlement that is being appealed.
Baldwin said a strike could happen by next week, but it’s a last resort and the two sides aren’t that far apart.
Commissionaires Nova Scotia could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.