Howe Sound Pulp and Paper (HSPP) has reached a new collective agreement with Local 1119 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP).
The five-year contract was set to go before the CEP membership yesterday (Jan. 24) for a ratification vote, union local president Don Rheaume said Monday, Jan. 21.
“Pending ratification of the membership in the coming days, we have a deal. It’s a fair collective agreement and I think it will form the basis of labour peace on the Sunshine Coast for the next five years,” Rheaume said. “It’s good news for the Sunshine Coast, absolutely.”
Representing more than 400 workers at the Port Mellon pulp and paper mill, CEP members voted 99.4 per cent in favour of strike action on Nov. 29. Two days prior to the strike vote, the company had applied to the B.C. Labour Relations Board for mediation, and a mediator was appointed earlier this month.
With the employer “trying to roll back the labour agreement by 60 years,” Rheaume said he was “very proud” of the membership for delivering a strong strike mandate.
“In the end the company and the union got what they needed to move ahead. No one ever gets everything they want,” he said, declining to discuss details of the agreement until it was presented to members at the ratification vote.
The agreement provides a lump sum payment of $3,750 to active employees on the date of ratification, plus the same amount on May 1.
General wages will increase by two per cent on May 1, 2014, 2.5 per cent on May 1, 2015 and three per cent on May 1, 2016.
HSSP’s parent company, Paper Excellence Canada Holdings Corp., had no comment on the tentative agreement.