Via Rail Canada. (File photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)Via Rail Canada. (File photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

VIA Rail workers ratify new contract

A new contract between some 2,400 VIA Rail employees and VIA Rail Canada is now official.

The current agreements will allow employees to catch up post-pandemic with a 5.5% wage increase in 2022, a 3.5% increase in 2023, and a 2.5% increase in 2024, for an average wage increase over three years of 3.83%. They also include revisions to various work rules, and closer collaboration on issues of diversity and inclusion.

According to a news release, the Collective agreement with Unifor was ratified by members working at stations, on board trains, in maintenance , the VIA Customer Centre, and administrative offices.

The deals will be retroactive to January 1, 2022, and in effect through December 31, 2024. The tentative agreements were reached on July 12, 2022,

"We are delighted with the ratification of these mutually beneficial agreements which will provide stability for the next three years, as well as increased flexibility to actively pursue the recovery of our services and advance VIA Rail's important modernization projects," said Martine Rivard, VIA Rail's Chief Employee Experience Officer. "I am grateful for the hard work of both negotiating teams and would especially like to thank Unifor's Chief Negotiator Scott Doherty and recognize the guidance of conciliators who helped bring about this positive outcome for our employees and our passengers."

The media released stated VIA Rail employees experienced unprecedented hardships over the past 2 years, and when called upon remained professional and continued to offer the high-quality service that VIA Rail is known for. As the health crisis took a dramatic toll on the travel industry, many employees were laid off, and unionized employees saw increases of 0% in 2020, and 2% in 2021.

The ratification of these agreements provides much needed stability in the industry and more options for passengers at a time when Canadians have shown an increased appetite for travel. It also offers reassurance for the communities who count on VIA Rail services from coast to coast to coast.

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