KATINNIQ/MONTREAL – A 15-week strike at the Raglan Mine in Nunavik has ended following the ratification of a new collective agreement during a voting process held by union members over the past several days. Workers approved the new contract by a 60.7% majority.
The 630 workers, members of the United Steelworkers union/Syndicat des Métallos, will return to work with their heads held high, convinced that the first labour dispute at the isolated, fly-in, fly-out mining operation will lead to greater respect from their employer, Glencore.
“We went on strike for the first time and our members stood tall. This is now an established option that we have to seek respect and better working conditions,” said Éric Savard, president of Steelworkers Local 9449, representing the Raglan Mine workers.
“We succeeded in negotiating improvements on wages and issues such as vacations and work schedules. We also made progress in terms of better regulation of subcontracting,” Savard said.
The new five-year contract provides for wage increases of 6.8% in the first year, 3.5% for the following two years and 3% for each of the last two years. A 10% bonus that was negotiated in previous years will now be rolled into the general wage structure.
Other improvements in the agreement include:
- A lump sum payment, equivalent to six hours of wages, will be paid to each worker on a travel day, when they are flown to the mining operation. The agreement resolves a three-year-old grievance, and includes retroactive payments.
- The benefit plan is improved and benefits will be increased for short-term sick leave.
- A mechanism will be established to ensure greater transparency in the use of subcontractors, while 20 positions that were previously filled by subcontractors will now be filled by union members.
- A new, two-weeks-on, two-weeks-off work schedule has been introduced and will be offered on a voluntary basis to all workers.
- All workers will now have access to a fourth week of vacation after 16 years of service, a new gain for workers on a 50-50 schedule (whether 3-2-2-3 or 2-2).
“I would like to recognize the tremendous work of the union’s bargaining committee, which made it possible to reach this new collective agreement,” said Steelworkers’ staff representative Harold Arsenault.
“Going forward, the union’s work on behalf of the membership will continue on several fronts, as unresolved issues will now be discussed in working groups, as will outstanding grievances. We also will be vigilant in closely monitoring the use of subcontractors. Hats off to everyone and to the solidarity of the members in supporting the union’s work,” Arsenault said.
The United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos, affiliated with the QFL/FTQ, is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing more than 60,000 workers in all sectors of the economy.
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