Alberni-firefighters sign new collective agreement

The heat is off the pending arbitration over a collective agreement between local firefighters and the City of Port Alberni.

The city announced at its Monday meeting that it had hammered out a new agreement with the Independent Association of Fire Fighters local 1667.

The new agreement staves off arbitration hearings, which were scheduled to start in just days.

Firefighters have been without an agreement since the last one expired in 2006.

They’ve had no wage increase since, and currently earn 20 per cent less than the provincial average.

The new agreement is from 2007 to December 2013.

It calls for a two per cent wage increase each year from 2007 to 2010, and a five per cent increase effective January 2011.

Provisions for smaller wage increases early in the agreement and larger increases later diffused the need for retroactive payments.

Improvements have been also made in pension provisions and the captain’s pay rate.

The increases are partially offset by discontinuing benefits such as uniform cleaning allowances, longevity pay and first aid pay provisions in the last agreement.

A wage re-opener clause allows for renegotiation of wage rates in the event of a significant local economic downturn.