Cuts at 5 Wing weather sta­tion could cost lives: union pres­i­dent

The Labradorian - - FRONT PAGE - BY BON­NIE LEARN­ING

Im­pend­ing cuts to the 5 Wing weather sta­tion will neg­a­tively im­pact Ground Search and Res­cue in Labrador and could cost lives.

That’s ac­cord­ing to Bernie Bol­ger, pres­i­dent of Lo­cal 90125.

The news comes of the job cuts comes just days af­ter Serco and DND signed a two-year ex­ten­sion to the cur­rent ser­vice con­tract.

“The union was in­formed there would be a re­duc­tion in the new two-year ex­ten­sion con­tract,” said Bol­ger

Bol­ger said the Base ser­vice provider, Serco, was in­formed yes­ter­day that four of six jobs will be chopped at the weather of­fice at 5 Wing.

“From what we un­der­stand, the weather of­fice will be scaled back to two em­ploy­ees, with a Mon­day to Fri­day, 7: 30 a. m. – 5 p. m. sched­ule,” said Bol­ger on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, just min­utes be­fore head­ing into a meet­ing with town of­fi­cials to dis­cuss the mat­ter.

“This will have a neg­a­tive im­pact on Ground Search and Res­cue (GSR), the com­mu­nity and Labrador as a whole.”

Bol­ger ex­plained GSR can­not op­er­ate with­out up-to-date weather brief­ings.

“This es­sen­tially means that GSR will not be able to op­er­ate af­ter 5 p.m. week­days and not at all on week­ends.”

Bol­ger said other cuts in­clude re­duc­tions in air­craft rest­ing sys­tems and Pre­ci­sion Ap­proach Radar.

“This is just the start of the fed­eral govern­ment get­ting rid of 5 Wing Goose Bay,” said Bol­ger.

Bol­ger noted union of­fi­cials are set­ting up meet­ings with politi­cians ASAP to try to get the de­ci­sion re­versed.

‘ Still wait­ing’

Stan Oliver, the deputy mayor of Happy Val­leyGoose Bay, said coun­cil was shocked to learn of the cuts.

“Of course, we hate to see any­one in the com­mu­nity lose their jobs, as that’s al­ways a bad thing,” he said.

“But to ex­pect to op­er­ate Ground Search and Res­cue op­er­a­tions un­der those time­lines? It doesn’t make sense.”

Oliver agrees with Bol­ger that this is part of a big­ger plan by the fed­eral govern­ment to not come across with their prom­ises to 5 Wing and the Town.

“They promised us back in 2006-2007 that they would find an op­er­a­tional re­quire­ment for 5 Wing Goose Bay, and to­day, we are still wait­ing for that plan,” he said.

“This is just an­other strat­egy by the fed­eral govern­ment not to come through with their com­mit­ments to the coun­cil and this town.”

Oliver said what­ever de­vel­op­ment hap­pens in Labrador can come and go, but the base is here to stay.

“The base has been here since 1942 and we want to keep it,” he said.

whg- edi­tor@ tc. tc

Un­cer­tainty looms at the weather of­fice at 5 Wing Goose Bay, as the union was in­formed there would be job losses of four staff mem­bers.

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