Christine Collins, UCTE National President,  spoke today at the rally for St. John’s Airport workers who have been on strike since September 11, 2012.  Below is the speech she delivered:

Good day everyone and thank you for being here.

You as Newfoundlanders have faced many trials and tribulations.  Your history is full of stories about how you have overcome challenges and faced struggles head on.  And do not think this has gone unnoticed by the rest of Canada.  Newfoundland has gone from one of the poorest to a “have” province.  Newfoundland has seen a GDP growth per capita of 200% since 1997.  Newfoundland has seen an 8.3% increase in visitors to this beautiful province – the highest in the Atlantic Region. 

St. John’s Airport in particular has seen great momentum in growth. At a time when air travel was declining in the rest of Canada, St. John’s airport passenger traffic actually doubled.  And it is anticipated that demand will increase to almost 2 million passengers by 2020.

Now behind all these achievements are people.  People who work very hard to put their best foot forward.  People who commit to making the St. John’s Airport the success it is and is projected to be.  People who have are proud Newfoundlanders.  Engineers, Administrative support, general labourers, trades people, and firefighters – you all contribute to the success of this airport. 

It is obvious that going on strike was not your first option.  It is foolish to think this after we have been waiting for a new collective agreement since 2008.  We are not asking for much.  We are asking for a fair wage package that reflects the work you do that has helped make St. John’s airport a success.  We are asking that casual workers be afforded protection as seasonal workers.  And most importantly we are asking that our pension and benefits be protected.

As President of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees, I can tell you that across this country you have the support of your brothers and sisters.  It is my pleasure to provide you with a cheque of $1,000 for your strike fund to help you out during this difficult period.