Kootenay Savings unionized employees ratify new agreement

27-day labour dispute comes to an end; branches to resume normal hours Wednesday, Nov. 30

Both Kootenay Savings and Steelworkers representatives are declaring themselves satisfied with the resolution to the 27-day labour dispute, as the new collective agreement was ratified over the weekend.

Kootenay Savings employees at Trail, Castlegar, Kimberley and South Slocan are scheduled to be back on the job Wednesday morning after ratifying the new four-year collective agreement. All affected branches will resume normal hours at 12:30 p.m. that day.

The new agreement includes a $1000 cash bonus in the first and third years, a 1.5  per cent increase in wages in year two and a 2 per cent increase in year 4.

It also contains movement on the pension language, which was one of the main sticking points in the dispute. The renewed agreement contains additional pension protection by way of improvements to the existing retirement allowance. The creation of a second retirement fund will provide an extra layer of protection for employees in the Defined Benefit Pension Plan while achieving a  financial limit on Kootenay Savings’ future pension costs. There are also some benefit improvements.

“We returned to the table on Tuesday and the employer came back with a clear change in the approach to resolving the pension issue,” said Dean Lott, USW Staff Rep and lead negotiator for the union. “Their offer of a minimum annual contribution of $200,000 to cover any potential shortfall if pension changes were made gave our members comfort that their pension level would be protected while at the same time giving the employer certainty in their liability.”

“That’s if there are any changes made to the pension plan. If there isn’t, there’s no impact on the employer or our members.”

“We understand this labour dispute has been disruptive and unsettling for some of our members, and created challenging circumstances for all of our valued employees. It is absolutely our priority to have our staff return to their regular positions, with a continued commitment to take ownership for meeting our members’ financial needs. As a member‐owned community credit union, our primary focus is to provide access to exceptional service and financial advice through a variety of delivery channels.”