Workers at the Marine Transportation Services have voted in favour of a new collective agreement that will see increases in wages over the coming years plus other added benefits.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada North issued a news release on April 13 stating that a long-fought battle to get approximately 80 workers a new deal with employer Offshore Recruitment Services Inc. (ORSI) was finally accomplished.

It was not clear at press time the number of years agreed to.

“I’m happy that a fair deal was reached,” said Lorraine Rousseau, PSAC North Regional Executive Vice President in a statement.

“PSAC (with the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees) worked tirelessly in the last 12 months through the ups and downs of this negotiation. Members and their communities are the union’s priority,”

“PSAC/UCTE members deliver key services along the Mackenzie River supply chain that communities rely on.”

Negotiations began between the union and the employer in April 2021 on behalf of more than 80 marine workers. A tentative deal was rejected by marine working members last November which forced parties back to the bargaining table.

Most workers are located in Hay River, though there are others located throughout the Mackenzie River supply route.

The new deal will see workers receiving a 7.69 per cent wage increase over the life of the new three-year agreement as well as all allowances now being tied to the cost of living and the consumer price index in the Northwest Territories.

Employees will also receive 28 weeks of compassionate care leave and updated maternity leave and child care benefits.

There will also be sick leave accumulated at a rate of one day per month where the employee has received at least 10 days of pay.

The agreement will see an expanded definition of discrimination.

Kaleb Milne, an active union member said the new agreement is positive because a multi-year collective agreement term gives workers more certainty. The agreement is retroactive to lastyear when the last agreement expired.

“One of the issues members have had to deal with since the GNWT purchased NTCL (Northern Transportation Company Limited) was uncertainty of the employment situation there,” he explained. “People didn’t know what was gonna happen.

“So far, things seem to be stabilizing somewhat,” he said.

ORSI is contracted to provide recruitment and employment services of marine workers, particularly those with skills to load and unload cargo from vessels at locations along the Mackenzie River. They include the marine terminal, shipyard, dry cargo and bulk fuel terminals in Hay River as well as terminals in Norman Wells, Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.

ORSI’s contract with the GNWT, which ran from Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2021, is worth $7.7 million and includes.all labour, expenses and fees.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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