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CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI There were no parade or fireworks but it sure felt like a celebration yesterday in Montague, Prince Edward Island.

The collective agreement between CUPE 3373 and the Southern Kings Group Home was officially signed yesterday, a month after a tentative agreement was reached.

The road was a bumpy one, but its finally over, said CUPE PEI representative Bill McKinnon.

When they walked off their jobs more than a year ago, the starting wages of the fearless five from Montague was $10.40 an hour. They were paid for 44 hours but worked 54 hours a week with no overtime pay and no benefits. They earned 35 per cent less than similar group home workers in Charlottetown.

The permanent workers obtained an overall 17 per cent increase. They will also be paid for overtime after a 4-week average of 192 hours and will be paid time and a half on statutory holidays. In addition, their new health and dental benefit package is worth between 12 and 15 percent.

The casual workers who only earned $7.22 an hour received a 31 per cent wage increase. At the end of the 3-year contract, they will earn $9.50 an hour.

The workers were also able to secure a position for one of the strikers who worked as a casual. She is now a permanent part-time employee, which entitles her to the same benefits as her colleagues.

The workers will spend the next three weeks in orientation at the group home; they will officially be back at work full time on August 1st.

This new collective agreement puts an end to the longest strike in the labour history of the province.

Its been a difficult struggle, said CUPE representative Bill McKinnon, but they were able to go through this ordeal because of the unconditional support of the CUPE members and trade unionists from Prince Edward Island particularly. From the beginning, CUPE members on the Island have been tremendous! Our Island CUPE Locals adopted (financially) each of the strikers and that gesture of generosity and solidarity made all the difference in the world.

However, we cannot forget that CUPE members also showed the same solidarity all across the Maritime provinces and the country.

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For more information:
Bill McKinnon (902) 566-4006
Danielle Savoie (506) 857-2816