Finning strike is over after five weeks

Striking Finning workers in Sparwood headed back to work last week after agreeing to a new contract.

  • Aug. 12, 2011 11:00 a.m.

Striking Finning workers in Sparwood headed back to work last week after agreeing to a new contract.

Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers have been off work for five weeks, pressing for wage increases, but returned to work last week after voting to ratify a new four year agreement.

The contract provides for annual wage increases of four per cent in the first and fourth year, and three per cent in years two and three.

The new collective agreement has ended a province-wide strike by about 700 hourly-paid employees, who set up picket lines at all 25 Finning locations in B.C. for five weeks.

The agreement, which covers hourly-paid Finning Canada employees in B.C. and Yukon, expires on April 14, 2015.

The IAMAW members from B.C. voted 74 per cent in favour of ratifying the contract.

In the final tally, 579 ballots were cast, with 428 voting in favour of the contract.

The union organized polling stations in 19 towns and cities across B.C. for members to vote on the new agreement. The voting took place between July 25 and 27, and the union counted the ballots on July 29. Wages, benefits, shifts and sub-contracting were the four major issues of concern for the workers who voted in favour of strike action on June 22.

In the final round of negotiations, statutory holidays became the main issue, as this was the only area where the union could achieve any movement from the company.

New contract language ensures employees are not required to work statutory holidays.

Journeyperson wages will increase by $5.28 per hour over the life of the agreement, with the first four per cent wage increase retroactive to April 15, 2011.

Finning’s previous offer was rejected by employees partly because it required employees to work statutory holidays when the holidays fall on regular work days. Earlier concerns the union had around subcontracting were resolved through mediation.

A total of 700 workers at 25 Finning locations in B.C. were affected by the strike, the first labour dispute the company has had in B.C. since workers organized 60 years ago.

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