President of the Yukon Employees’ Union, Steve Geick, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 18, 2018. According to Geick, a new collective agreement between the Yukon government and the Yukon Employees’ Union will allow employees to have up to 48 hours of paid time off if they suffer an on-the-job trauma. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Union and YG ratify new collective agreement

A change around dealing with on-the-job trauma is a first for the country, says YEU president

A new collective agreement signed off on by the territorial government and its union includes a first for Canada, says the president of the Yukon Employees’ Union (YEU).

The incident leave provision enables employees to have up to 48 hours of paid time off if they suffer an on-the-job trauma, said Steve Geick.

“It’s going to allow people to take that time without having to worry about burning up their own leave, go see their doctor, go through the process and determine what it is they need going forward,” he said.

The three-year collective agreement, brought into force on July 15, is the culmination of nine months of negotiation, Geick said.

It delivers an annual salary increases (5.25 per cent, in total, over the duration of the agreement, or $16.5 million) and higher shift and weekend premiums. Nurse practitioners and airport firefighters will receive a supplementary market adjustment. Roughly $46,000 is to go towards community allowances and remote premiums, too.

Another aspect to the collective agreement, which isn’t noted in the government-issued news release, is a joint learning program, said Geick, which took three rounds of bargaining to establish.

“What we looked at doing was some more mental health training, some grievance handling training, so that both sides (employee and employer) are on the same page,” he said, adding that there will be 18 trainers. “Basically, what we’re trying to do is hand-off grievances. If we can sit down and have a conversation prior to getting into the grievance, then I think it’s better for everybody.”

Geick said he’s also pleased that there weren’t any changes to severance packages, a clear instruction from members.

Lisa Wykes, who’s serving as the public service commissioner on a temporary basis, said the process was collaborative.

“Many hours of hard work were put in by teams on both sides to reaching this collective agreement.”

The agreement, which expires on Dec. 31, 2021, applies to roughly 4,100 workers represented by the YEU and the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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