Parties Avoiding Pain with Long, Short Terms

Unenthusiastic support common with this week’s agreements
By Gordon Sova
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 01/19/2011

The technical employees of CML Healthcare in British Columbia, which runs medical testing laboratories, have a new collective agreement that provides 6.5 per cent over five years. In addition, it gives them a Group RRSP and better benefit sharing. Weekend and evening work are now voluntary for current employees. A professional development allowance has been created and uniform costs will be reimbursed.

The City of Fredericton council vote ratifying the contract with their bus drivers was close: several voted against it. Their fear was that because it included wage increases, it would be even more difficult to rein in the demands of the other municipal locals when their turn came.

For its part, the union points out that Fredericton drivers earn significantly less than those in Moncton and Saint John.

The agreement provides 2.9 per cent in each of the first two years and 2.75 per cent in each of the last three.

The support staff of Trent University have ratified a two-year agreement with no wage increases. But they did it by only a 54 per cent margin. They did achieve job security with a no-layoff clause and a 75 per cent university-paid L.T.D. plan to replace the previous employee-paid plan. There were no other concessions, including in early retirement 60/20 provisions.

A labour board complaint initiated by the union after the ratification vote was settled when the university agreed to include power plant workers in the job security language. The announcement that the plant was being closed was made very late in the negotiations.

The last collective agreement between Nav Canada and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada took three and one-half years to negotiate and the union didn’t want to go through that again. This agreement is for only one year and provides 2.5 per cent. The hours of work in a day are reduced from 7.75 to 7.5, something that has been an issue in previous negotiations.

Two of the agreements in this week’s issue are long, at five years, and three are short, two at one year and one at two. Only one is a standard length of three years. The short contracts are in the public sector and seem to suggest a wait-and-see strategy regarding current fiscal restraint.