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Long Harbour Workers Awarded Collective Agreement and Signing Bonus After 5 Year Battle

October 19, 2019

This article was originally printed in the Winter 2020 edition of the Union Forum magazine. 

The janitorial workers at Provincial Ready Mix are celebrating a well-deserved victory at the Labour Relations Board following a five-year battle with their employer to negotiate their first collective agreement.

Provincial Ready Mix is the contractor hired by Vale in Long Harbour for all janitorial work at the nickel plant. The process for a collective agreement began in 2014 with FFAW-Unifor receiving certification in 2015. There was significant pushback and delays from the employer, leading to the Union’s application for conciliation and subsequent requests to the Department of Labour to impose a first contract.

“It has been a long, frustrating process for these workers that has finally paid off,” said FFAW-Unifor Service Representative Allan Moulton.

“We encountered numerous delays and when we did finally reach the bargaining table, very little progress was made which led to our application to have the Labour Relations Board impose an agreement on the company. The workers at Provincial Ready Mix must be commended for their hard work and for their persistence over the five-year process,” Moulton added.

The Labour Relations Board selected FFAW-Unifor’s offer for wages and classifications using a final offer selection process. In addition to a significant increase in wages, the 21 employees will be sharing a $225,000 signing bonus.

Katie Manning, local Committee Chair at Provincial Ready Mix, said of the outcome, “A few of the girls and I were driving home from our shift when Allan called me. We pulled over and when he told us the news, we basically broke down in tears. We were so relieved and overwhelmed. We are more than happy with the work the Union has done for us and the fact that they stuck with us through everything.”

“In Newfoundland and Labrador, the law states you have a legal right to join a union. But that is where it stops. There is no legal right to a first collective agreement. Companies can stall, refuse to bargain and change meeting dates repeatedly,” said Greg Pretty, FFAW-Unifor Industrial-Retail-Offshore Director.

“The process should react more rapidly if an employer tries to break the union or weaken the resolve of the workers to have a collective agreement. Workers have a right to a union, and they should have a right to a timely collective agreement should the employer disrespect their wishes to unionize. A five-year battle is unacceptable, but we are certainly glad these workers will finally be receiving the recognition they deserve,” said Pretty.

“This Board decision sends a strong message to imprudent, callous employer groups who are contemptuous of workers’ right to organize and to achieve a timely first collective agreement. But what’s also required in these situations is legislation that will prevent companies from re-tendering contracts to void a collective agreement – which is not unheard of in the mining and construction industry here in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Pretty added.