Unifor members working at a Newport frozen food processing plant in Gaspésie voted 96 per cent in favour of the terms of their very first collective agreement during a general meeting held late last week.
Unifor was accredited in the spring of 2018 to represent the employees of the plant. An agreement in principle followed after ten face-to-face bargaining meetings and several telephone meetings as the owners of the plant, Quebec Wild Blueberries, are based in Lac-Saint-Jean.
The new 28-month collective agreement not only lays the groundwork for a first employment contract, but provides the union and employees with all the tools they need to gain respect. This agreement significantly enhances the working conditions of employees and offers them better protections. The gains include: better rules to ensure the health and safety of employees, respect for seniority, two more days of sick leave in addition to those provided by law, overtime pay, improved employee earnings, bereavement leave, bonus system for shifts and special assignments. The wage increases will total 4.25 per cent for 2019 and 2020. In addition, a first salary increase will be applicable as of May 2019 which represents, depending on the occupation, a wage increase between three and eight per cent of current hourly rates.
"We are very proud of the result of the negotiations and support our members have given us,” said Martin Lambert, Unifor’s National Representative responsible for the negotiations. “We believe that we have met their expectations while establishing a constructive dialogue with this employer and setting the basis for discussions for the coming years."