Bargaining update

July 4, 2024

As we previously reported, the union filed notice of dispute with the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) on April 2, 2024, Marine Atlantic made their legal submissions and application on April 16, 2024, for a maintenance of activities agreement (MOAA) with the board citing that we were unable to reach an agreement on what services if any should be maintained by our members in the event of a strike.  The employer is relying on past decisions of the board and outdated circumstances and conditions.

On May 16, 2024, the union filed their reply to the application made by Marine Atlantic relying on more recent factual circumstances as well as citing the significant changes to Marine Atlantic’s operations and relevance as a means of transportation of goods and people to and from Newfoundland & Labrador and Nova Scotia.

The employer filed their reply to Unifor’s submission on June 12, 2024, once again, relying on the previous ruling of the board and an incorrect interpretation of the union’s filings as being a reconsideration of a previous decision. 

This is not the case at all. The union is not seeking a reconsideration of a previous decision, nor would the union be considered timely for such an application.  Unifor is simply stating that the CIRB must consider the current circumstances and properly turn their mind to whether it ought to interfere with the worker’s right to strike. The right to withhold our labour is a fundamental right which is only used as a last resort to bring a resolution to negotiations which otherwise could not be concluded.

Unifor has filed an additional “sur reply” with the board in opposition to the employer’s reply. The union needed to clarify our position on what grounds we are urging the board to not interfere with our ability to exercise our right to strike.

While we wait the outcome of the Maintenance of Activities application, we are heading back to the bargaining table with the assistance of the conciliating officer on July 15 for the week with both agreement “B” and “C” bargaining committees.

The bargaining committee will continue to provide regular updates throughout the negotiations please do not listen to rumours as these updates are the only official communications from your committee.

Thank you for your support.


Bargaining Update

May 22, 2024

Marine Atlantic Bargaining Update 

Unifor Local 4285 bargaining committee for Agreement “C” met with Marine Atlantic with the assistance of the FMCS Conciliator on May 13th and 14th followed by the Local 4285/4286 bargaining committee for Agreement “B” on May 15th and 16th.

There was some progress made at both tables and the union is hoping to build on this progress the next time we meet. Further dates have been scheduled for the week of July 15-19, 2024. 

As we reported in our last communications the conciliation process has a specific timeline of sixty (60) days after the Conciliator is appointed followed by a 21 day cooling-off period, which is subject to certain conditions being met. One of which is the issue of whether there is a Maintenance of Activities Agreement in the event of a strike and/or lock-out. 

Due to Marine Atlantic’s application made pursuant to Section 87.4(4) of the Canada Labour Code on April 16, 2024 the issue of the Maintenance of Activities must be disposed of by the Canadian Industrial Relations Board before the Union is able to issue strike notice and/or before the Employer can issue notice to lock-out the employees.

Marine Atlantic is seeking that the Board should declare that the supply of services of both agreement B and C are essential and shall be maintained to prevent the immediate and serious danger to the safety or health of the public. 

Unifor does not agree with the position taken by the Employer and Unifor legal has responded to Marine Atlantic’s application to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board related to the Maintenance of Activities and we are looking forward to having a hearing to determine this issue. 

The Union will continue to bargain in good faith to negotiate the best collective agreement for our members.

May 1, 2024

As we reported to you in our last communication on April 3, the Union filed for conciliation in order to bring some urgency to securing a collective agreement for Marine Atlantic members.

What is conciliation? 

Conciliation is a process in collective bargaining where the government appoints a Conciliation Officer to act as a neutral third party to help the Union and Employer reach a collective agreement.

Conciliation also sets timelines through the process to keep negotiations moving and prevent the use of stalling tactics by the parties. This is of particular interest to Unifor due to Marine Atlantic’s history of delaying negotiations.

Where are we in this process?

Right now, we are in the 60-day period of conciliation which will be followed by a 21-day “cooling-off” period. Following the cooling-off period, either party is obligated to provide 72 hours' notice of intention to initiate a lockout or strike.

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A linear scale showing the progression of the collective bargaining process, from notice to bargain to a notice of dispute, through a fifteen day wait for a ministerial decision. The timeline continues with a wait of about 60 days to the Termination of conciliation, then d1 days to Acquisition of right to strike or lockout. A note indicates that the right to a strike must first have a strike vote and there is a 72 hour notice period.

Where are we in this process?

The Minister of Labour appointed a Conciliation Officer from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service on April 10, 2024. The parties have been working since that date to secure conciliation dates.

We can report that we will be meeting with Marine Atlantic Inc. on May 13-14 for Agreement “C” and May 15-16 for Agreement “B”.

The Union does not bargain in public, but we will update you as often as possible. We ask all members to not listen to the Employer for updates, or entertain rumours that may come up during the bargaining process.

We would like to thank you for your continuing support.

Please reach out to your local union representatives for additional information or with questions. Your support will be pivotal in achieving the next collective agreement.  


Media Release

Marine Atlantic workers file for conciliation after employer stalls bargaining

April 3, 2024

SYDNEY, N.S.—Unifor has filed for conciliation on behalf of Marine Atlantic workers represented by Locals 4285 and 4286 after the employer has demonstrated an unwillingness to bargain by delaying meaningful negotiations.

“There is absolutely no acceptable reason for an employer to drag their feet and delay meaningful bargaining efforts, particularly as the cost of living has increased so drastically in that time,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne. “Marine Atlantic needs to come to the conciliation ready to get serious and ready to get a deal that respects its workers and our members.”

Collective agreements with Marine Atlantic Inc., the federal Crown Corporation responsible for operating the ferry service between Nova Scotia and the Island of Newfoundland, expired on December 31, 2022.

The previous negotiations with Marine Atlantic suffered such drastic company delays that by the time an agreement was ratified, it was already past its expiry. The union filed notice to bargain immediately after that round concluded.

“I don’t see how it’s possible for a Crown Corporation to neglect its workforce for so long,” said Atlantic Regional Director Jennifer Murray. “It is insulting that Marine Atlantic workers who waited 3 years for their last contract, should have to wait so long once again to negotiate wage increases. Conciliation is clearly necessary to drag this employer into some accountability.”

Unifor represents 631 members in Local 4285 who work as storekeepers, cooks, bosuns, quartermasters, deckhands, bridgewatch, carpenters, liferaft maintainers, certified and uncertified engine room assistants, and stewards.

Local 4286 has 100 members who work as senior chief stewards, pursers, chief stewards, and senior chief cooks.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.


Bargaining Update

April 2, 2024

Today, the bargaining committee for Unifor Locals 4285 and 4286 representing the dedicated employees of Marine Atlantic Inc. filed for conciliation.

With the collective agreements “B” and “C” having expired on December 31, 2022, Unifor is committed to ensuring the rights and wellbeing of its members are protected and upheld during the ongoing contract negotiations.

The Unifor members of Marine Atlantic Inc. are the backbone of the company, tirelessly working to maintain the transportation link between the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. Your dedication and expertise are the key to the smooth operation of this infrastructure, and it is imperative that your contributions are duly recognized and valued.

Unifor filed notice to bargain in June 2023, with the expectation that the employer would come to the table ready to engage in constructive dialogue and negotiate in good faith.

However, the delay in setting dates and the subsequent lack of progress during three days of negotiations on March 26-28, 2024, are clear indications of the employer’s deliberate delay tactics. These delays have resulted in undue hardship and uncertainty for you as you continue to work at the same wage rates negotiated for 2022.

This union firmly believes that fair treatment and respect for workers' rights are non-negotiable principles that must be upheld at all times. We demand that the employer engage in genuine and timely bargaining discussions that prioritize the needs and concerns of members.

In light of these challenges, we have chosen to pursue conciliation as a means of facilitating constructive dialogue and achieving a resolution that meets your needs.

Unifor remains fully committed to representing your best interests and advocating for your rights in the workplace as we navigate the conciliation process. We are confident that with the assistance of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services we can secure a fair and equitable contract that reflects your dedication and hard work. 


Bargaining Update

March 28, 2024

The bargaining committee representing Marine Atlantic workers at Unifor Local 4285 and 4286 met with the employer from March 26-28 to begin negotiations.
Marine Atlantic members service ferry routes that traverse from North Sydney, N.S. to Port Aux Basques, N.L. and Argentia, N.L.

“Unifor members at Marine Atlantic work in one of the most challenging and unpredictable environments as they help passengers make their way safely and comfortably through Atlantic Ocean waters between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Atlantic Regional Director Jennifer Murray. “We expect this round of bargaining to reflect the incredible work Unifor members do to keep this vital link between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrabor running.”

Unifor represents 631 members in Local 4285 who work as storekeepers, cooks, bosuns, quartermasters, deckhands, bridgewatch, carpenters, liferaft maintainers, certified and uncertified engine room assistants, and stewards.

Local 4286 has 100 members who work as senior chief stewards, pursers, chief stewards and senior chief cooks.

Their previous collective agreement expired December 31, 2022.