Hal­i­fax Wa­ter’s union­ized em­ploy­ees head­ing back to work af­ter col­lec­tive agree­ment reached

Cape Breton Post - - PROVINCE / CANADA -

Hal­i­fax Wa­ter’s union­ized work­ers will be back on the job Fri­day.

The util­ity an­nounced early Wed­nes­day evening that it has “a com­pre­hen­sive plan to smooth the tran­si­tion back to work for more than 330 em­ploy­ees who have been off the job 58 days in a labour dis­pute.”

Hal­i­fax Wa­ter’s em­ploy­ees suc­cess­fully voted on a new col­lec­tive agree­ment Wed­nes­day at a Dart­mouth ho­tel. The board ap­proved the deal ear­lier this week.

Dave Dort of the Cana­dian Union of Public Em­ploy­ees told The Cana­dian Press most work­ers will be back Fri­day, while the re­main­der will re­turn Mon­day.

Changes to em­ployee pen­sions were the main chal­lenge dur­ing the two-month long work stop­page. Em­ploy­ees set up picket lines May 19, although their em­ployer had al­ready locked them out at that point.

The agree­ment fea­tures ad­just­ments to the pen­sion plan that will see a de­crease in ben­e­fits, with sav­ings ex­pected to amount to about $20 mil­lion over 14 years, ac­cord­ing to the news re­lease, “to re­store the pen­sion fund to a healthy fi­nan­cial po­si­tion.”

It also in­cludes an an­nual wage in­creases of 1.5, 1.5, 2.25, 1.5 and 2.25 per cent over the fiveyear con­tract, retroac­tive to Novem­ber, 2013.

“Em­ploy­ees have come through a dif­fi­cult time, whether walk­ing the picket line or cross- ing it to keep the util­ity in op­er­a­tion, and now they need to come to­gether,” Hal­i­fax Wa­ter gen­eral man­ager Carl Yates in­di­cates in Wed­nes­day’s news re­lease.

Ex­tra sup­port will be avail­able for staff “who ex­pe­ri­ence stress or neg­a­tive emo­tions,” the re­lease said.

The util­ity that de­liv­ers wa­ter and pro­vides waste wa­ter and storm wa­ter ser­vices across the mu­nic­i­pal­ity has been op­er­ated by about 100 non-union­ized staffers in man­age­ment and su­per­vi­sory roles since the work stop­page started.

“There were com­plex is­sues to re­solve here and we man­aged to find a bal­ance for em­ploy­ees and ratepay­ers,” Hal­i­fax Mayor Mike Sav­age said in the re­lease, adding the agree­ment is fair to both ratepay­ers and work­ers.

METRO HAL­I­FAX PHOTO

Wa­ter em­ploy­ees are shown on the picket line in Hal­i­fax.

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