After conciliation meetings went sour, airplane fuelers at Vancouver Airport have given their bargaining team a strike mandate.

Approximately 80 members of PSAC/UCTE Local 20221 work at Swissport International Inc. in Richmond BC, refueling aircraft and providing associated services at Vancouver International Airport.

How did we get here?

Previous rounds of negotiations have not gone well. One of the stumbling blocks is Swissport’s desire to introduce part-time positions. The employer has clearly stated that they want this however they have come time and again unprepared to discuss the details.

When the union refused to write the employer’s bargaining demand for them, Swissport walked away from the table and filed for conciliation.

What is conciliation?

When a union and an employer are having difficulty reaching a tentative agreement, and have reached an impasse on key issues, the Minister of Labour may assign a conciliation officer to assist in the collective bargaining process.

While mediation and conciliation are similar in that they involve an impartial third party to assist in negotiations, they use different strategies. While a mediator guides the two parties to come to their own solutions, a conciliator may actively participate in negotiations by offering solutions to both sides.

The conciliation process can take up to 60 days, unless both parties agree to an extension.

In this particular case a conciliator was appointed on April 12th and both parties agreed to meet May 6 and 7. The bargaining team came prepared to work late into the night if that was necessary. Unfortunately, the employer didn’t feel the same and talks ended on May 7th with little results.

Members were provided an update on May 8th at which time a strike mandate was given to the bargaining team. This mandate gives the union the right to proceed with serving a strike notice if necessary.

What does this all mean?

Conciliation is scheduled to end June 11, 2019.The bargaining team is trying to set dates with the conciliator and the employer to continue negotiations.

Should a deal not be reached by this date, there are a few options:

  1. The conciliator can decide to extend the conciliation process if both parties agree.
  2. The conciliator decides that conciliation has failed and we enter a 21-day cooling-off period.

If we enter the cooling-off period, then no further work action (i.e. strike or lock-out) can take place before July 2nd at midnight at which time the union or the employer can serve notice of its intentions.

As details become available, we will continue to keep you updated with your bargaining team’s actions. If you have any questions in the meantime, please speak with a member of your bargaining team.

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