Ground breaking agreement ratified

VANCOUVER, May 4 /CNW/ - A new era of stability and openness to women working at Canada's west coast ports will be ushered in by the new agreement between the International Longshore Warehouse Union Canada and the BC Maritime Employers Association that has received wide support by ILWU Canada members.

"Collective bargaining is alive and working well at Pacific Gateway ports," said ILWU Canada President Tom Dufresne.

Details of the agreement are being released today following ratification by the ILWU's membership.

The agreement is based on three main pillars.  First, the term of eight years provides unprecedented stability and reliability to everyone associated with the Pacific Gateway - ILWU members and employers alike.

"The interests of ILWU Canada members and the employer are aligned when it comes to having an agreement that delivers reliability and predictability in the workplace.  This is a win-win agreement," Dufresne said.

Second, the agreement includes a new program for maternity and paternity leave - one of the union's key bargaining demands -- which involves topping up and extending Employment Insurance benefits.

"Making longshore workplaces more attractive as a place of employment for women is long overdue.  For the first time, longshore workers will have the support they need as they raise their families.  We will now be more competitive with other workplaces that women have been more likely to choose because of these kinds of benefits," said ILWU President Tom Dufresne.

Finally, with the eight year term, the ILWU Canada and the employer have agreed to a package of wage and benefit increases that will give ILWU members financial security that is protected by a cost of living factor in the final three years of the agreement.

The agreements includes an average wage increase of 3.5% every year of the agreement and a cost of living factor starting in year 6 that will protect the purchasing power of ILWU members if inflation exceeds the agreed upon wage increase.

"The agreement will deliver the kind of financial stability our members need.  The employer has also agreed to pension enhancements, a benefit of great importance to ILWI members," Dufresne said.

Ship and dock foremen in ILWU Local 514 are covered by a separate agreement which is still under negotiation.

SOURCE International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada

For further information:

Jim Thompson 613-447-9592

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