VIA Rail workers on board with agreements

Deal tackles wages, job security and work-life balance
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 07/22/2013

VIA Rail employees have gotten on board with three new agreements, according to the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union.

Members employed by VIA Rail approved new three-year agreements covering 2,100 staffers ranging from customer service representatives to train maintenance workers.

Because union members at VIA Rail all fall into one of three groups (off-board, station and phone service staff; on-board service staff; and shopcraft skilled trades maintenance), the three collective agreements were approved by a total of 86 per cent after negotiations concluded on June 13.

The agreements include wage increases, improved job security for part-time workers, the introduction of joint apprenticeship committees and maintenance of the defined benefit (DB) pension plan, the union said. A new job sharing program will allow employees to temporarily share a position or assignment, something the union said will help with work-life balance.

Ken Lewenza, CAW’s president, said the deal was a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.

“Negotiations cannot solve the problem of chronic underfunding of Canada's transportation networks, such as VIA Rail,” Lewenza said. “Government must step up to ensure that Canada has a viable national railway system that connects communities right across the country, instead of starving our national passenger rail. Canadians, including VIA Rail workers, are looking for leadership on this issue.”

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