CityWest has released more information on the negotiations with IBEW local 337, which represents a number of the company’s telephone workers.
Earlier this week the union, which represents 36 technicians and clerical workers, raised the possibility of strike action effective Sunday, saying CityWest came to the bargaining table seeking “aggressive concessions”. However, CityWest says that is not the case.
“We want to be competitive while remaining fair. We originally proposed conciliations and have always been open to meet. In fact, we have never left the bargaining table,” said the statement.
“Our proposals represent a plan for change designed to keep CityWest profitable and competitive. This is important so that CityWest can continue to add value to the City of Prince Rupert as a local employer and a source of income,” reads the statement.
The company says that approximately 65 per cent of controllable costs are related to employee compensation, and that there was no proposal tabled to roll back wages or pension rights for existing employees.
“We want the ability to attract and retain the necessary skills required to run a profitable company. Our proposals include a plan for such wages and benefits across all job classifications. This includes higher rates for specialized skills and a base + commission pay structure for new Customer Service Representatives,” reads the statement, which says existing employees would see an increase in wages under the CityWest proposal.
Other outstanding issues for the union are pay increases based on the manager’s discretion rather than on the pay grid and new hires being excluded from the pension plan. CityWest responded to both those concerns.
“We want the ability to develop, recognize and reward exceptional performance. Our proposals include a plan to pay and promote for performance based on a system of feedback and coaching where management and employees participate…This is not a dismantling of seniority for arbitrary decisions; seniority will remain in place for vacations, pension, layoff, etc. However, we want to see skills, abilities and performance factored into promotion and pay so that we may attract, reward and retain talented employees,” said the company of the pay increases.
“We want to continue offering a meaningful pension plan for our employees. In common with many other companies, our proposal includes a defined contribution pension plan for new employees….[There are] no changes to pensions for existing employees who participate in the established defined benefit pension plan,” of pension concerns.
With the union saying it could strike on Sunday, CityWest says it is important that an agreement be reached.
“It is extremely important that the negotiating parties continue to work together constructively and not allow this process to negatively affect our customers. Our goal is to reach an agreement that is fair to all involved: our customers, our employees, and our shareholder. If we can accomplish this, we all win,” said the statement.
“We do not want to see any disruption as a result of job action…Neither side wishes to cause any disruption of essential services to our customers in Prince Rupert. However, in the event of a strike situation, CityWest is committed to ensuring there is no disruption to our essential services.”