On-call firefighters in the Municipality of North Cowichan are the first in the province to sign a collective agreement.
Firefighters who are with the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 358 (CUPE 358) ratified their first collective agreement with the municipality earlier this month.
The agreement included enhanced insurance, including family coverage, as well as increased base wages for the next two years.
There will also be additional pay for work on statutory holidays and if someone works more than 35 hours in a week. A one-time cost of living bonus was also paid based on years of service.
”This collective agreement solidifies North Cowichan’s commitment to our paid on-call fire service and underscores the importance and value of North Cowichan’s firefighters,” said Mayor Rob Douglas in a release Thursday.
“I want to thank the bargaining committee members on both sides who worked extremely hard to reach this brand-new agreement,” he said.
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The North Cowichan Fire Department has approximately 100 on-call members across its four fire halls.
The fire department responds to more than 1,250 calls per year, and has fire service agreements with six local First Nations, including the Quw’utsun First Nation, Cowichan Tribes, the Halalt First Nation, the Lyackson First Nation, the Penelakut Tribe, and the Stz’uminus First Nation
The North Cowichan Fire Department also has mutual aid agreements with Duncan, Ladysmith, the Cowichan Valley Regional District and the BC Wildfire Service.
“This agreement recognizes the vital services paid on-call firefighters provide in our community,” said CUPE 358 president Jeff Parker.
“Earlier this year, these workers joined CUPE, and we want to thank North Cowichan for a collaborative first round of negotiations.”