CEP Strike Avoided

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Written by Gonzalo Moreno

The negotiations between the University Administration and Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) Local 2003, the trade union representing the 13 operating engineers of the Central Utilities Plant, have come to a successful end, as the union has ratified today the agreement reached last Thursday night.

Although some progress had been made over one month's worth of negotiations, last week the parties brought in a mediator in order to reach a settlement before December 11, at which point the workers would have been in a legal position to strike. By Friday morning, UoG’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs was reporting that, "a tentative settlement has been reached, and it now requires ratification by both parties, which is scheduled to take place over the weekend."

The agreement was presented to the workers this Saturday morning, and, in words of CEP National Representative Zoran Grgar was "overwhelmingly ratified" with "about 90 per cent of the votes." "We reached a fair agreement," Grgar continued in a telephone interview with Thecannon.ca, "and membership was satisfied."

CEP Local 2003 is responsible for the workers of the Central Utilities Plant, situated in Power House Lane across the road from Alumni Stadium. The plant provides electricity, steam for space heating, chilled water for air conditioning, and water for domestic use. It also provides labs with de-ionized water and raw water for fish research. A strike would therefore have been problematic for the operation of the university.

"It was an unusual set of circumstances," says Grgar about the possibility of the strike, adding that "it was the only way [the workers] have the ability to do something." However, he was also confident that "we’ve addressed what we need to address" and that "both sides are satisfied, there are no hard feelings left over." Grgar also cited "wages and job security" as "the most important issue to us," adding that the now ratified new collective agreement had new provisions for wage adjustments.

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