Halifax Water’s unionized employees heading back to work after collective agreement reached
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.
Water employees are shown on the picket line in Halifax.