Workers at Kootenay Savings have ratified a new contract.

Workers at Kootenay Savings have ratified a new contract.

Kootenay Savings ratifies agreement with employees

Management and unionized employees at Kootenay Savings Credit Union have ratified a five-year collective agreement that includes wage increases averaging 3.25 per cent over the life of the deal.

Management and unionized employees at Kootenay Savings Credit Union have ratified a five-year collective agreement that includes wage increases averaging 3.25 per cent over the life of the deal.

It also includes improvements in some benefits, a retirement allowance,  improved contract language, and $500 signing bonus, according to a joint news release.

“This round of bargaining focused on compensation for changes made to the employees’ pension plan,” United Steelworkers local 9705 president Chuck Macklon said. “We feel this agreement addresses that issue adequately and provides a stable work environment for the next five years.”

Brent Tremblay, president and CEO of Kootenay Savings added: “We are all very pleased to have reached an agreement that is acceptable to both parties. With this long term agreement in place we can continue our focus on member and employee satisfaction.”

The previous deal expired December 31.

Both parties recommended acceptance of the package, and employees voted 95 per cent in favour.

The affected branches are South Slocan, Kaslo, Salmo, Warfield, Trail, Waneta Plaza, Fruitvale, and Castlegar, and Kimberley.

Ninety-three per cent of workers endorsed a strike early last month, with 82 per cent of the 150 union employees turning out for the vote.

They subsequently voted 81 per cent to reject the credit union’s final offer

The main sticking point was the lack of a long-term plan to compensate union members for changes made to the pension plan last year, which raised the retirement age to 62 from 60, increased employee contributions by 1.5 per cent and boosted the early retirement penalty to six per cent per year from three.