CAW Local 598 Members Ratify New Agreement at Xstrata

February 4, 2013, 3:00 PM EST

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CAW/Mine Mill Local 598 members who work at Xstrata Nickel in Sudbury, Ontario have overwhelmingly ratified a new collective agreement that provides wage increases, COLA, pension gains and benefit improvements.

Workers voted 92 per cent in favour of the four-year agreement at meetings February 1. CAW Local 598 represents about 865 Xstrata Nickel production and maintenance workers.

A tentative agreement was reached after a tough round of bargaining that included several days of round the clock bargaining prior to the deadline.

"This round of talks was extremely difficult," said CAW Local 598 President Richard Paquin. "I think it's because of the extensive issues that were on the table at the time -- like the length of the contract, our pensioner's COLA indexing issues, our DB pension increases. Introduction of a voluntary DC pension plan for new hires, and the wages were an issue for us. We haven't had fair wage increases in years, and the members wanted that this time around. It was very challenging," Paquin said.

The new agreement includes a $4,000 signing bonus for all active members, wage increases of one per cent each year, COLA roll in wages ( total $3.20/hour increase over four years), pension and benefit improvements, including long-term disability and group life insurance gains.

For retired employees and spouses, there will be a one-time payment of $500 to the lowest earning pensioners and surviving spouses who are receiving pensions of less than $500 a month and the pension indexing will continue to be funded, a Local 598 release states.

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