Strong Settlement at Marine Atlantic

November 6, 2009, 1:19 PM EST

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An arbitrator has awarded CAW Local 4285 and 4286 members employed on vessels operated at Marine Atlantic Inc. annual wage increases of 2.8% in an agreement effective from January 1 2008 to December 31, 2010.

The award also improved vacation entitlement and provided a new unique "completion of tour" premium of 12 cents per hour payable when employees complete a full regular tour of 15 consecutive days on board the vessels.

Marine Atlantic Inc. is a Crown corporation offering ferry services between the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. The CAW represents approximately 600 workers at Marine Atlantic, which the federal government has declared an essential service without the right to strike.

The two CAW locals were unable to resolve their negotiations after delays caused by Marine Atlantic's application to restructure bargaining units. These talks were further complicated by an early settlement with a smaller USW/ILA Council that contained only 2.5% in a two-year agreement from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010.

CAW National Representative Linda MacNeil welcomed the award, saying "It was well deserved, the members were very patient and the committee showed such strength and solidarity, so the outcome was very fitting."

CAW Locals 4285 and 4286 agreed to proceed to mediation/arbitration before arbitrator William Kydd in June 2009. Instead of following other contract settlements, the CAW locals opted to go to arbitration in a bid to maintain leadership in bargaining among the unions at Marine Atlantic.

CAW Local 4285 President Mavis Grist said; "Our members are so pleased with the outcome after such a long wait.  And the recognition by the arbitrator that our work at Marine Atlantic is comparable to BC Ferries will certainly play a significant factor in bargaining future agreements."

CAW Local 4285 is currently in negotiations with a shore-based skilled trades unit at Marine Atlantic.

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