10/20/2012 01:15 EDT | Updated 12/20/2012 05:12 EST

Blue collar workers ratify new contract

The City of Montreal's 4,400 blue collar workers have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement that gives them a raise, but also sees them take on more of the fiscal burden for their pensions.

Workers voted 95.4 per cent in favour of the tentative, five-year deal that was reached Oct. 11 between the city and Local 301 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

The union's bargaining committee recommended members accept the pact. It includes salary increases of two per cent per year in the first three years and 2.5 per cent per year in the final two years. But it also requires the blue-collar workers to raise their pension contributions from 6.3 per cent of wages to nine per cent by 2015.

The resolution of contract negotiations comes 2½ months before the workers' current collective agreement runs out, on Dec. 31.

Michael Applebaum, chair of the city's executive committee, said last week that it was the first time in history that the municipality reached a deal on a new collective agreement before the current one expired.

The blue collar workers' current collective agreement was reached in 2010 — nearly three years after the previous one expired — following years of bitter negotiations and rotating strikes.

Applebaum said he expects the city's firefighters and police officers to follow suit and successfully wind up their negotiations toward new contracts.