August 22, 2006
VANOC, unions sign agreement
In the race to finish Olympic venues by 2010, at least one obstacle has already been cleared.
British Columbia’s construction sector has ratified a pact with the province’s unions to maintain labour peace until after Vancouver has hosted the winter Olympic Games in 2010. The deal involves a series of agreements involving 14 unions representing 35,000 trades workers.
The agreement provides for probable increases in the cost of living, along with increases in wages and benefits to address the tight B.C. construction market.
The agreement, which expires April 30, 2010, also covers holidays, hours of work, pensions, safety provisions, travel and working conditions.
The agreements met with the approval of both labor and representatives of the industry, including Construction Labour Relations Association Bob Morrison.
“These new agreements provide new flexibility and stability that will enable our industry to attract and retain the skilled workforce that is required to complete a large volume of construction work on time and within a predictable wage cost structure,” Morrison said.
Morrison added the agreements address the fact that the construction industry, though currently very active, recently emerged from a decade-long slump where union wages remained unchanged.
“Both the companies and unions made strides in these negotiations in recognizing changes in the construction industry, and the new collective agreements provide greater flexibility to allow the companies to operate,” Morrison added.
Mark Olsen, the president of the Bargaining Council of BC Trade Unions, also voiced his support of for deal.
“Purchasers of construction in B.C. can now be assured of wage certainty when they look to the unionized sector of the construction industry to build their projects,” Olsen said.
He also said the agreement would act as an incentive to keep skilled workers in the province.
“The skilled labour shortages we are facing arise out of a number of factors, which include a hot market in the Alberta construction industry, an aging workforce and a reduced entry into trades training.
“The new agreements provide an incentive to stay in BC and in the industry,” he said.
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