Via Rail reached an agreement in principle on Saturday with 2,000 of its workers, who had been without a collective agreement for over a year.
The agreement covers members of Unifor National Council 4000 and Local 100 of the same union, which includes maintenance workers, on-board service personnel, supervisors, sales agents and employees in the customer service.
“My congratulations go to the members and bargaining committees who adapted to online negotiations during the pandemic, and who remained committed to reaching a fair deal for all members as VIA Rail faces truly unprecedented challenges. Jerry Dias, National President of Unifor, commented in a statement.
The railway company is indeed going through a difficult period, as the repercussions of the pandemic are being felt on ridership. This summer, the carrier had also announced the layoff of 1,000 of its employees.
This crisis follows that of last February, when railroad blockades in support of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in British Columbia had destabilized the industry for several weeks.
Throughout this time, negotiations for a new collective agreement continued. This expired on December 31, 2019 and talks had started two months earlier.
To finally reach an agreement, recourse to federally appointed mediators was necessary.
“This agreement represents the end of a long round of bargaining where the bargaining team put members’ priorities first. I am proud to recommend its adoption, ”said Zoltan Czippel, President of Unifor Local 100.
Details of the new convention will not be made public until after ratification. The employees will be called upon to vote “in the coming weeks”, the union said.