District comes to agreement with CUPE

District of Sicamous’ unionized employees are set to receive an 11 per cent wage increase.

District of Sicamous’ unionized employees are set to receive an 11 per cent wage increase with the recent settlement of a new collective agreement.

Last week, both the district and CUPE 1908 announced the completion of the six-year agreement, which is retroactive to March 2012 when the previous agreement expired.

“It was really important to us to look at more than wages, and negotiate fair labour practices for all employees in the bargaining unit,” said district chief administrative officer Heidi Frank in a Feb. 19 release. “The union made it clear from the onset that they wanted a two per cent increase in wages. We were willing to discuss it, provided we could come up with monetary savings that would justify that increase. And we did.”

The collective agreement reached followed 16 months of bargaining, said Frank, and explaining the agreement includes substantial language amendments proposed by district management staff to ensure “proper and efficient labour practices are in place” at the district.

Frank said cost savings were achieved with both parties agreeing to: a reduction in on-call pay; overtime to be scheduled for all capable employees, not just those with highest seniority; a cap of six sick days per year and loss of seniority after a one-year absence.

CUPE 1908 president Kevin Hansen said the agreement will provide certainty for Sicamous residents and businesses, and for the CUPE members who provide services.

Along with the wage increases, Hansen said the union is also pleased with the new language in the agreement that addresses “a long-standing, unfair distribution of overtime and improves members’ access to flexible working hours.”

“We also achieved improvements that are important to members in the areas of compassionate leave, technological change, educational allowances, contracting out and protection for part-time and temporary staff.”

Mayor Darrell Trouton said management and the union have been working diligently to make the district a place that is fair and responsible for everyone – which he thinks they’ve achieved.

“I feel this contract is a large step in the right direction – it’s not just about wages, it’s about doing the right things,” said Trouton.