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Michel Parent, the president of Montreal’s blue-collar union, the Syndicat des cols bleus de Montréal, and the new mayor of Montreal, Michael Applebaum, have finally signed the global agreement reached on October 11 and characterized as “historic”. The signing had been delayed because of management changes at City Hall. The agreement covers the pension plan of approximately 5,000 blue-collar workers, as well as the renewal of the collective agreement for a period of five years.

“From the outset, we recognized that there were funding problems with our pension plan and we decided to tackle them. We committed to reducing costs significantly and taking charge of our plan. Today, the blue-collar workers are delivering the goods. The renewal of the collective agreement for five years, prior to its expiration, is another first,” noted union president Michel Parent.

“After more than eighteen months of negotiation, some tough decisions were taken. I am particularly proud of the blue collars, who acted responsibly in widely supporting the agreement. In future, we hope to keep working with the City to find solutions rather than confrontation,” added Parent.

“This agreement marks a historic development in our working relationship with the blue-collar union and allows us to achieve several goals at the same time. I hope that this settlement will become a standard that can show the way for our discussions with other unions and associations representing our municipal employees,” said Mayor Applebaum.

Renewal of the collective agreement

The new collective agreement for blue-collar workers will be in effect for five years, from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2017.

Projected salary increases during this period are 2% per year for the first three years and 2.5% for the last two.

There are also several amendments to existing provisions, allowing the City to adopt new operational practices that could increase productivity in some areas of activity, while reducing costs relating to overtime or the awarding of contracts.

Changes to the pension plan

The changes to the pension plan constitute the cornerstone of the new collective agreement. While ensuring the sustainability of the blue-collars’ pension plan, they will reduce the City of Montreal’s annual cost by $6.3 million.

This sum of $6.3 million represents the blue-collar workers’ fair share in the effort required of all City of Montreal employees to reduce pension costs by $50 million.