Coun­cil ap­proves new five-year col­lec­tive agree­ment for Swift Cur­rent fire­fight­ers

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Farm News - BY MATTHEW LIEBEN­BERG mlieben­[email protected]

The City of Swift Cur­rent suc­cess­fully com­pleted ne­go­ti­a­tions with the fire­fight­ers labour union be­fore the ex­piry of the cur­rent col­lec­tive agree­ment.

Coun­cil ap­proved a mo­tion at a reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing on Nov. 19 to rat­ify the ten­ta­tive agree­ment reached by the bar­gain­ing com­mit­tees of the City of Swift Cur­rent and the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Fire­fight­ers (IAFF) Lo­cal 1318.

The cur­rent col­lec­tive agree­ment will ex­pire on Dec. 31 and this is the first time that a new five-year agree­ment will be signed be­fore the ex­ist­ing one comes to an end.

Ac­cord­ing to City Chief Ad­min­is­tra­tive Of­fi­cer Tim Mar­cus the strong and am­i­ca­ble re­la­tions be­tween City man­age­ment and the lo­cal IAFF mem­bers re­sulted in rea­son­able and re­spect­ful dis­cus­sions. The ne­go­ti­a­tions, which started on Oct. 16 and con­cluded on Oct. 29, were there­fore com­pleted with­out the use of ex­ter­nal rep­re­sen­ta­tives by the two par­ties.

“From my stand­point it was awe­some,” he said after the coun­cil meet­ing. “I've been in­volved in ne­go­ti­a­tions over the years in a lot of dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ments and in pri­vate busi­ness as well, and to be able to just sit down and have that great re­la­tion­ship with the lo­cal union and be able to come to an agree­ment with­out any other ne­go­tia­tors in the room is tremen­dous.”

He felt this pos­i­tive sit­u­a­tion is the re­sult of ef­forts from both sides over sev­eral years to de­velop a good re­la­tion­ship.

“It works when both par­ties are in­ter­ested in be­ing able to move ahead col­lab­o­ra­tively,” he said. “We’ve just worked at it over the last seven years or so and it’s work­ing pretty good.”

The new agree­ment will be for the pe­riod Jan. 1, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2023. An im­por­tant ben­e­fit of the five-year term is the sense of sta­bil­ity that will be pro­vided for both sides.

“It’s al­ways nice to have an agree­ment that cov­ers a longer du­ra­tion,” he said. “You’re guar­an­teed labour peace. Both sides are happy with the agree­ments. So you’re able to con­tinue a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the other party for a long pe­riod of time and also the cit­i­zens can be en­sured there will be no in­ter­rup­tions for quite some time.”

The wage in­crease over the five-year pe­riod will av­er­age two per cent per year. There will be an in­crease of 2.25 per cent in 2019, fol­lowed by a two per cent in­crease dur­ing each of the next three years, and then again a 2.25 per cent in­crease in the fi­nal year of the agree­ment. The en­try level wage for fire­fight­ers will in­crease from $83,231 in 2019 to $90,313 in 2023.

Changes have been made to the an­nual leave en­ti­tle­ments to re­duce the years of ser­vice re­quired for ad­di­tional va­ca­tion time.

Through­out the five-year pe­riod a new fire­fighter will re­ceive three weeks an­nual leave with full pay after one year's em­ploy­ment. The years of em­ploy­ment re­quired for ad­di­tional paid va­ca­tion time will be­come less in each year of the agree­ment.

For ex­am­ple, a mem­ber will re­ceive four weeks an­nual leave after nine years of em­ploy­ment in 2019, but in 2023 the four weeks an­nual leave is avail­able after six years of em­ploy­ment.

This change will also oc­cur for mem­bers with more years of ser­vice. The max­i­mum paid va­ca­tion time of six weeks will re­quire 28 years of ser­vice in 2019, but in 2023 a mem­ber is en­ti­tled to six weeks an­nual leave after 22 years of em­ploy­ment with the City.

An­other sig­nif­i­cant change in the new col­lec­tive agree­ment is the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the lieu­tenant po­si­tion that will re­place the cur­rent act­ing cap­tains. A cap­tain is in charge of each of the four pla­toons and dur­ing his ab­sence there is cur­rently an act­ing cap­tain. The new lieu­tenant po­si­tion will be­come a per­ma­nent role with a new wage scale.

“In­stead of the lieu­tenant be­ing the act­ing cap­tain only when the cap­tain is away, he’ll have du­ties and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties on a full-time ba­sis as a lieu­tenant,” Mar­cus ex­plained. “So it tran­si­tions more to a role that you ful­fill and in that way you’re also train­ing to re­place the cap­tain on a full­time ba­sis rather than just act­ing dur­ing his ab­sences. ... Cur­rently if the cap­tain is away and this per­son acts as the act­ing cap­tain he re­ceives a bump in his pay, and now he’ll re­ceive an ad­just­ment to his pay on a per­ma­nent ba­sis dur­ing the course of the whole year rather than the por­tion of the year when the cap­tain was ab­sent.”

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