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Wednesday, 10 October 2012 15:50

New agreement between City of Swift Current and electrical workers

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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The lights will remain on in Swift Current after a new collective agreement between the City and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 2067.


Councillors ratified the new three-year deal, which will provide the City’s electrical workers with an annual 3.5 per cent pay increase, at their regular meeting on Oct. 1.
The current collective agreement will expire at the end of this year. The negotiations between the two parties started and concluded on Sept. 24 and the IBEW members voted in favour of accepting the agreement at a meeting on Sept. 26.
The deal heralds a different approach between the two parties. This was the first time that negotiations took place before the current contract expires.
It was also the first time that an agreement was reached before the end of the existing contract.
“Prior to this, negotiations were a little bit more formal,” IBEW Local 2067 shop steward Barry Metivier said. “It's mostly due to the positive relationship we have with our staff and City. I think that contributed a lot to a positive ratification.”
City Chief Administrative Officer Susan Motkaluk said there were no stumbling blocks during the negotiations.
“It was very positive,” she noted. “The discussions were very respectful. It was done in a professional manner and of course the time it took to reach the agreement is a good indicator of how healthy those discussions were.”
She felt the successful negotiations between the two parties were a result of the City’s ongoing efforts to be an employer of choice.
“We worked really hard in the last year and a half to improve the culture,” she said. “The exciting part is that we were able to work out a lot of understandings in the last year through labour management and through various meetings that we've had internally, just trying to gain an understanding.”
Motkaluk said wages and work-life balance were equally important issues during the negotiations. Staff retention was an important consideration for the City, especially in view of the strong competition for skilled labour in the province and the need to maintain a key component of the City’s infrastructure.
“The settlement that we reached is fair,” she mentioned. “It's in line with the market, but it's certainly not aggressive. I think it's a small step towards employer of choice.”
With effect from Jan. 1, 2013, the starting rate of pay for City electrical workers will be $19.05. After three years of employment, the rate of pay will be $20.87.
In addition to the 3.5 per cent pay increase each year, the agreement amended annual vacation rates.
“We're in the ballpark,” Metivier said about the terms of the agreement. “I think there's always competition as far as that goes, but we're fairly competitive in that respect.”

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