Back to square one in airport strike

It's back to square one for negotiators in the nine-month-old strike at St. John's International Airport.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada held a news conference on Friday to provide an update on the dispute, after talks broke off again on Tuesday night.

"We are absolutely appalled that the airport authority would break off talks when we were so close to reaching a deal that would end the strike," said Chris Aylward, PSAC national executive vice-president.

Aylward said he personally put in a call to airport authority CEO Keith Collins after talks broke off, but said the call was not returned.

Gail Lem is the chief negotiator representing PSAC.

"When the union has essentially accepted the employer's offer – except to move slightly to address an internal inequity – for the employer to walk away from the table is really shocking," said Lem.

Meanwhile, Collins said that's not the case at all.

He said the two sides presented proposals on wages, but could not find common ground.

"It was very clear that we were at the end of a useful discussion on wages," said Collins.

"We had made our proposal very, very clear, they had made theirs very clear. We were quite a distance apart. Despite what they have said, there was no value in continuing a discussion where neither party was going to move."

The one thing that both parties agree on is that they want the dispute to end.

"The fact that it has been about nine-and-a-half months is outrageous and ridiculous," said Collins.

The 85 members have been on a legal strike since Sept. 11, 2012. They provide operational services, including runway clearing, buildings and equipment upkeep, fire, security and emergency services, as well as administrative and billing services.

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