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Air traffic control workers’ union upset by move to hire ‘scabs’ if they strike

Talks between air traffic control workers and NAV Canada have broken down, and workers are now concerned they will be replaced by contractors if they strike.

The workers’ union and NAV Canada, a private not-for-profit corporation which operates air traffic control at airports across Canada, reached an impasse last week. The workers are represented by Unifor Local 1016, which says the company notified them it has a service contractor lined up in case of a strike.

Unifor national president Lana Payne says a recent victory on the East Coast should encourage NAV Canada to avoid a strike, and called on the federal government to move on Bill C-58 which has been working its way through parliament for months.

“We have been fighting tooth-and-nail for the federal government to pass anti-scab legislation now,” she said in a statement. “Let Unifor’s actions at CN Autoport be a warning to other companies that our union won’t tolerate scab labour. We will defend our members’ right to strike and to free and fair collective bargaining.

“My message to NAVCan: Unifor is ready. All of us.”

The union was on strike for more than a month at the Nova Scotia port, picketing to prevent replacement workers from entering the site. The strike ended earlier this month after the union’s demands were met.

Workers in Air Traffic Control Training, Operational Support, Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), Flight Data Analytics and Aeronautical Information Management at NAV Canada locations from coast-to-coast are represented by Unifor. Workers recently voted 95% in favour of striking over wages, staffing, and scheduling issues.

They will be in strike position May 4.

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