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OTTAWA Ottawa garbage, recycling and landfill workers have voted to accept a new collective agreement that helps ensure safe workloads and decent wages and benefits.

Workload and wages were key issues for the 160 workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. The employer, private waste corporation Canadian Waste Services, was pushing concessions that would have increased already unmanageable workloads, while paying new workers less to do the same jobs.

The company wanted us to work up to 60 hours a week. We stood firm and said no way to any increase in our back-breaking workloads. We also rejected their plan to pay new workers less than what we earn right now. Im proud weve protected decent wages for young workers in our community, says Ernie Dion, President of CUPE 1338.

The five-year deal includes improvements in the workers benefits and wages increases in each of the five years a far cry from Canadian Wastes initial proposal. The workers will get a two per cent increase in 2002 and in 2003, followed by 2.5 per cent increases in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

The deal was reached early July 12 in last-minute mediation. The workers ratified the deal yesterday night, with 61% voting to accept the contract.

Our members know we worked hard to get the best contract we could this time. But they also let us know there are still lots of improvements to be made. Make no mistake – well be back at the table next time with those demands. We work hard and provide excellent service. We wont stop demanding the safety and respect that we deserve, says Dion.

Canadian Waste workers collect residential and commercial garbage and recycling in about 80 per cent of the city, as well as maintaining the trucks and the Carp landfill. Canadian Waste is owned by Texas-based garbage multinational Waste Management.

CUPE represents a half-million women and men working in municipalities, health care, education, social services, libraries, utilities, transportation, airlines and emergency services.

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For information, contact:
Ernie Dion, President CUPE 1338
(613) 294-5953
Andy Mele, CUPE National Representative
(613) 237-0115 (o) - (613) 223-9299 (cell)