Nav Canada, Unifor reach agreement with early retirement option, pay rise

Nav Canada’s air navigation specialists are receiving a new end-of-career leave program and a three per cent wage increase in their new collective agreement.

The workers, represented by Unifor Local 1016, voted 97 per cent in favour of ratifying the agreement. The wage increases on salaries and premiums are retroactive to July 1, 2019.

The end-of-career leave program is a trial that would allow workers with a minimum of 20 years of service at the company to choose to bank their overtime toward an early retirement. It will allow employees to save up to six months of overtime and retire half a year early. They’ll be required to provide Nav Canada with six months of notice and a date of retirement, and at that time their banked overtime will be paid out.

Read: Nav Canada lights the way with Sanofi wellness award

The program already exists at Nav Canada for employee groups represented by other unions, says James Walker, president of Local 1016. He also noted that, once employees put their overtime hours into the bank, it’s locked in. “You can’t decide, ‘Oh, I want to get paid out on this.’ . . . You’re making a commitment to Nav Canada for planning purposes at the end of your career.” 

While workers with less than 20 years of service can’t currently participate in the program, they can bank their overtime pay toward taking up to a year off throughout their career.

In addition, employees will now have more leeway to use their five paid family days per year. Previously, they were typically granted for uses such as medical, dental and legal appointments. “We expanded on the reasons why you can take that leave,” says Walker. “There are a number of different provisions you can now take [those days] for — adoption, birth of a child, that kind of thing.”

Read: How will Canada Labour Code changes affect employers?

The collective agreement also includes language on the new unpaid leaves granted by the September 2019 updates to the Canada Labour Code — leave for traditional aboriginal practices, reservist leave, leaves related to the death or disappearance of a child, leave for victims of family violence and compassionate care leave.

“We can always go to the code outside of the collective agreement, but we managed to anchor them into the agreement, which is a little bit better for us,” says Walker. “That way, we can add to them in the future. It’s not negotiated new leave, per se.”

Nav Canada declined Benefits Canada‘s request for comment.