Two years after the last collective agreement lapsed, the Nunavut Employees Union, which represents more than 100 unionized city employees, has reached a new deal with the City of Iqaluit.
The deal is effective immediately and expires at the end of 2019.
Negotiations started at the end of 2015, but were stalled when the union was looking at “zeros for fours years,” according to union’s president Bill Fennell.
Fennell was in Ottawa in mid-December, when discussions of a strike vote came to a head, so he flew back early, but the strike was averted.
A deal was tentatively ratified on Dec. 14, where employees would receive a wage increase of 1.5 per cent on Jan. 1, and an additional 2.5 per cent increase on Jan. 1, 2019, for a total of 4 per cent over the length of the agreement.
New employee concessions
To get this deal though, Fennell says, some concessions were made for new employees.
“We don’t like two tier bargaining, but we also didn’t want a strike at Christmas, so our members thought they got the best they could get.”
New employees will not be eligible to receive two vacation travel allowances after five years of service, as current employees are. They will only ever be entitled to one payout a year.
The final deal needs to be signed off on by the City, which is expected in the next two weeks.
‘Dangerous’ schedule for firefighters
But Fennell says the union won’t stop working with the City to improve employees’ working conditions.
First on the agenda is firefighters and dispatchers’ schedules, which he says need to change.
“They’re stuck with a schedule that’s leaving morale very low. The city has a risk assessment report that says that’s the most dangerous schedule both because they’re fatigued and it’s a danger to the public because they are fatigued.”
Currently, firefighters are working six days a week on eight hour shifts, according to Fennell. He says the city’s report recommends four days a week of 12 hour shifts, so…