Maple Leaf contract includes protections for foreign workers

Company must provide translators and process paperwork for members in foreign worker nominee program

More than 2,200 unionized workers at Maple Leaf in Brandon, Man., have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new collective agreement that promises improvements to pensions, wages and vacations, and also enshrines more protections and rights for foreign workers at the plant.

The new agreement states the company will be responsible for processing all the necessary paperwork for members under the foreign worker nominee program, provide translators whenever required by foreign workers and pay for the translation of the contract and the employee handbook if there are more than 100 members whose first language is not English.

An expedited arbitration process has also been introduced for members under the foreign worker program if they have been terminated. These members will be allowed to stay in the province until the arbitrator's award is received.

"This contract was unique to bargain because of the diversity at the plant. Our committee was successful in making strong improvements for everyone who works there," said UFCW Local 832 president Robert Ziegler.

The company agreed with the union in reclassification of jobs, which will see more than 200 members move into higher paying classifications. These improvements vary from 75 cents an hour to more than $3.00 an hour.

All members will see wage increases of $1.30 to $2.10 over the life of the agreement along with increases to shift premiums.

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