Social services contract ratified

$600,000 fund will assist in retraining

A significant hurdle was overcome when British Columbia’s 15,000 community social services workers voted in favour of a new contract with no wage increases.

The unit had voted in favour of striking in May and was the final major health-care union to accept a “net-zero” collective agreement.

Job security is improved through giving current employees priority when contracts are re-tendered and allows those employees to carry their seniority and benefits to the new employer.

The provisions on harassment and bullying have been entirely rewritten, providing what the union calls a “fair and workable” complaints process.

Finally, the government has created a $600,000 retraining fund to help employees displaced through closures and cutbacks.

The two-year contract expires in just five months, a testament to the length of time over which these negotiations dragged on.

Another collective agreement that took a long time to complete is the new Saskatchewan teachers’ contract. It was ratified on Sept. 29.

The parties entered into mediation on May 31 after “it became evident that both parties were still at an impasse regarding salary issues.” The union had a one-day study session and rally on May 5 and would have withdrawn voluntary services beginning in June.

The agreement provides 8.9 per cent in wage increases over three years for teachers at the top rate and a higher increase of 10.2 per cent for starting teachers. Effective in the second year, the top step also begins after 11 years of experience, previously 15.

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