SAR Tech maintenance workers are going to binding arbitration with their employer, IMP Aerospace and Defence. File Photo.

SAR Tech maintenance workers are going to binding arbitration with their employer, IMP Aerospace and Defence. File Photo.

Comox SAR maintenance workers heading to binding arbitration

Aircraft maintainers who are responsible for keeping the fleet safe for those keeping the public safe are heading to binding arbitration with their employer.

The decision follows a breakdown in collective bargaining.

Members of the Union of National Defence Employees (which represents approximately 18,000 public and private sector workers at DND facilities across Canada) Local 1018 have been working without a collective agreement since June 30, 2015.

About 50 Search and Rescue aircraft maintainers who provide in-service support at CFB Comox for SARTechs have “been struggling with this for 28 months now,” explained Rick Levigne, president of UNDE Local 1018.

IMP Aerospace and Defence is the prime contractor for the Department of National Defence’s fleet of Cormorant Search and Rescue CH-149 helicopters.

The aircraft maintainers are the mechanics of the helicopter, and provide day-to-day repairs should a system or part fail. There are also members who perform more in-depth detailed scheduled inspections, as well as those who perform logistical and administrative functions.

As they are deemed an essential service, employees are not allowed to strike.

Levine said the union has had three rounds of “very ineffective bargaining and one attempt at mediation,” and the arbitration affects about 75 unionized employees who provide service for the SAR helicopter in both Comox and Gander, Newfoundland.

The last contract was a five-year deal signed in 2010, and Levine noted the last time the union was at the bargaining table with its employer was seven years ago. He added there are many updates in language in the collective agreement, but the main issues include health and safety concerns, increased benefits and wage parity with the industry standard.

In a statement, 19 Wing Public Affairs said the Royal Canadian Air Force remains on standby to deliver search and rescue with its Cormorant helicopters, with the full support of IMP and its employees.

It noted as the maintenance of the helicopter is an essential service, the ongoing contract process between IMP and its employees does not affect the SAR mission.

In an attempt to raise public awareness, the local union created a bus sign campaign, which was featured on local transit within the Comox Valley.

“With IMP, we are dealing with a major player in the world of defence contractors; many Canadians are not aware that the RCAF does not perform maintenance on many of the fleets they operate,” said Levine.

Currently, the union has dates at the end of Feb. 2018 for arbitration, and Levine noted he would hope to have a decision 60 to 90 days after the hearing.

“When you go to binding arbitration, everyone loses really; nobody is ever happy when a third party has to impose a settlement.”

Calls to Halifax-based IMP Group for comment were not returned.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A WestJet flight on the runway leaving Comox. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Aviation company seeks contracted employees to fill former WestJet roles at YQQ

Menzies Aviation from Edinburgh Park, Scotland, operates in 34 countries across the world

A cougar was spotted Monday near Queneesh Elementary. (WildSafe BC photo)
Cougar sighted Monday near Courtenay school

Conservation officers are warning the public to avoid the wooded areas around… Continue reading

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
SD71 to address COVID-19 exposures with virtual town hall

The meeting is set for Thursday, March 4

Courtenay Elementary is the latest school on a growing list that has COVID-19 exposures. Google Maps photo
Courtenay Elementary latest school on growing list of COVID-19 exposures

Exposure dates at the school on McPhee Avenue are Feb. 22, 23 and 24

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Tofino Resort and Marina has temporarily shut down after several staff members tested positive for COVID-19. (Nora O’Malley photo)
COVID-19 confirmed at Tofino Resort and Marina

Resort apologizes to Hesquiaht First Nation for Valentine’s Day boating incident.

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Most Read