The agreement announced Monday morning is tentative, but the company said in a statement that the union had indicated it would recommend its members accept the contract.
A tentative deal has been reached in the dispute between Western Forest Products and the striking United Steelworkers, providing a likely end to a bitter eight-month strike that has been financially devastating to mill workers and other related businesses on Vancouver Island.
“It’s going to take a while to recover from this. But now we can look to the future,” Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom said Monday.
The deal comes just days after mediators Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers re-entered negotiations after pulling out earlier in the week when they said the two sides had no chance of reaching a deal.
The pair had been overseeing negotiations between the company and Steelworkers Local 1-1937, which had been on strike for eight months. It is the longest strike in coastal forest history.
“With the assistance of special mediators, Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers, we have reached a fair and equitable agreement that balances the needs of our employees and our business,” said Don Demens, president and CEO of Western.
“This has been a particularly challenging time and I’m pleased that we were able to find common ground through the efforts of all involved.”
The agreement announced Monday morning is tentative, but the union is recommending members ratify the contract.
“Our union is extremely proud of our members’ solidarity in this extended struggle to achieve a fair collective agreement with Western Forest Products and their associated contractors,” said USW Local 1-1937 president Brian Butler.
Butler said details of the tentative agreement would not be released publicly until members had the chance to review and vote, but he did say the agreement does not contain any concessions.
In an email, Butler said he was in Vancouver Monday to organize when information meetings and ratification votes would be held. He said a schedule with these dates would be out on Tuesday.
Babita Khunkhun, WFP’s senior director of communications, would also not share any details of the agreement until it is ratified, but said the company “is very pleased” a deal was reached “after a long weekend” of negotiations. When all six of WFP’s mills on Vancouver Island will be open again for business will not be clear until after the ratification vote, she said.
“I would say its obviously a challenging time for the operating environment. We’ll be looking to resume operations to meet market demand,” Khunkhun said. “We’ll have those plans to share after the ratification vote.”
Wickstrom, the Port McNeill mayor, did not know the contents of the deal, but noted the striking workers were adamant they wanted no concessions on issues such as contracting out and shifting. She also did not know the timeline involved, but thought it would take several weeks for people to get back to work and even longer for her community to rebound.
“It is going to take a while for people and businesses to recover financially. If you think that they’ll be voting, it will take at least a week or two for that process. Then people will get back to work, so it will probably be three weeks before they get their first pay cheque. So there will still be hardship for them,” she said.
Ready and Rogers were sent back into the dispute on Thursday when Labour Minister Harry Bains re-appointed the pair as special mediators in the collective bargaining dispute.
“This dispute has taken a huge toll on workers and their families as well as the entire coastal forestry community. We want to see everyone get back on the job,” Bains said. “As minister of labour, I have decided to appoint special mediators Ready and Rogers with additional powers under the Labour Relations Code to help the parties reach an agreement as soon as possible.”
–with files from Scott Brown
Quebec pension giant Caisse takes $33.6 billion investment hit in worst markets in 50 years – Financial Post
He said his team conducted extensive due diligence with outside experts and consultants. They were aware of management and regulatory issues at Celsius and underestimated the time it would take to resolve them, he said, adding the Caisse was keen on “seizing the potential of block chain technology” and perhaps the investment in Celsius had been made “too soon” in the company’s development.
He noted that the investment was a very small part of a large venture portfolio that has produced 35 per cent returns over the past five years.
“In these disruptive technologies, there’s ups and downs…. Some big winners and many losers,” Emond said.
Although the Caisse posted an overall return in negative territory for the first six months of the year, the performance exceeded that of its benchmark portfolio — which posted a negative return of 10.5 per cent.
“Over five and 10 years, annualized returns were 6.1 per cent and 8.3 per cent respectively, also outpacing benchmark portfolio returns,” the pension manager noted.
Emond said the Caisse is managing the “turbulence” with a combination of asset diversification and strategic adjustments made since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“For the past two years, we’ve been working in an environment of extremes characterized by particularly fast and pronounced changes. These unusual and unstable conditions will persist for some time,” he said.
“In the short term, we’ll be watching what central banks do to contain inflation and how that impacts the economy.”
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During the first six months of the year, negative returns in equities and fixed income were partially offset by gains in the Caisse’s investments in real assets including infrastructure and real estate.
The pension giant posted a negative return of 13.1 per cent in fixed income, which beat the negative 15.1 per cent return for its benchmark portfolio. This represented nearly $3 billion in “value added” attributable to all credit activities, the Caisse said.
A negative return of 16 per cent in equities beat the negative 17.2 per cent return in the benchmark portfolio.
The Caisse’s real estate and infrastructure portfolios, meanwhile, generated a 7.9 per cent six-month return, “demonstrating their diversifying role which contributes to limiting inflation’s impact on the total portfolio.”
The real asset class performance also beat the benchmark portfolio’s return, which was 2.4 per cent.
“So that asset class played its role. The two portfolios are doing well,” Emond said.
He said it is challenging to compare the short-term performance of Canadian pension funds because they have e different mandates and investment models. The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, for example, has less exposure to equity markets than the Caisse and more exposure to natural resources and commodities, which performed well in the first half of the year.
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Air Canada says its baggage handling success rate is back to 98% – Yahoo Canada Finance
Air Canada says it has improved its service levels through the summer, reducing wait times and cancellations and bringing its baggage mishandling rate back to 2019 levels.
The Montreal-based airline provided an update on Wednesday on the operational improvement initiatives that have been underway as the company grapples with numerous challenges in the post-pandemic recovery.
Air Canada says that from the week of June 27 to the week of August 8, it saw the strongest improvement in baggage handling. While the company did not disclose its baggage mishandling rate, it says that the rate during the week of June 27 was 2.5 times the rate in 2019, before the pandemic hit. As of Aug. 8, Air Canada says the rate has returned to pre-pandemic levels, with a baggage handling success rate of 98 per cent.
The airline has also experienced a reduction in flight delays of more than one hour between, with 1,160 fewer flights per week facing longer delays. Air Canada also says delays are getting shorter, with the average arrival delay improving from 28 minutes longer than 2019 levels in the week of June 27, to 12 minutes longer than 2019 levels in the week of Aug. 8.
The number of flights cancelled fell 77 per cent between June 27 and Aug. 8. The airline’s flight completion rate reached 96.7 per cent, less than one percentage point lower than in the same week in 2019.
“We know how much our customers value travel and their reliance on us to transport them safely, comfortably and without disruption. This is always our goal and we share with them their disappointment that, coming out of the pandemic, the global industry faltered due to the unprecedented challenges of restarting after a two-year, virtual shutdown,” Air Canada chief executive Michael Rousseau said in a statement on Wednesday.
“While I am very satisfied with the progress to date… we all continue to work hard on behalf of our customers to complete our recovery.”
Air Canada says it currently operates an average of nearly 1,100 flights per day and it will operate 79 per cent of its pre-pandemic schedule through the summer. It now employs 34,000 workers, slightly below the 34,700 that were on staff before the pandemic.
Despite the improvements, Air Canada’s stock was trading down nearly 2 per cent on the Toronto Stock Exchange as of 1 p.m. ET.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Walter Spracklin says the improvements are a key positive for the airline, and reinforce that “the worst is behind them in terms of travel disruptions.”
“Taken together, these improvements should offer greater confidence to Air Canada’s customer base,” Spracklin said.
“Looking ahead, we hope to see capacity growth as the system gains resilience from the summer travel boom.”
Air Canada apologized to customers earlier this month for the operational instability seen in the post-pandemic ramp-up that came after travel demand surged for the first time in more than two years. The increase in demand strained the global air transport system and resulted in challenges for Air Canada and chaos at some of the country’s biggest airports.
The airline had pointed to challenges throughout the system as a key source of the issues, including resource challenges that impacted airport security screening, Canada and U.S. border customs processing, air traffic control, maintenance providers, equipment, supply chain, aircraft catering and fuelling partners. Air Canada also says a series of mechanical failures at airport baggage handling systems contributed to ongoing issues.
Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.
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