Metro Vancouver concrete workers end five-week strike after landing deal

Union members began returning to work early Friday

Concrete workers in the Lower Mainland had been on strike since May | Rob Kruyt, BIV

Workers backing Metro Vancouver’s concrete industry are ending their five-week strike after landing a deal with employers.

"Some desperately-needed pours will no doubt begin this weekend and our members will have peace of mind that their jobs are secure for the future," Mike Mayo, the union’s business representative and bargaining agent for the negotiations, said in a statement released late Thursday after negotiations with Rempel Bros. Concrete wrapped earlier in the afternoon.

Members of IUOE Local 115 began returning to work Friday at 6 a.m., according to Mayo.

The union's dispute with employers centred on working hours, missed breaks, wages and the right to refuse overtime the union deemed excessive. The union said drivers for concrete trucks were at some points being asked to work 14-hour days without “sufficient” breaks.

"The company finally realized that long work days and six-day work weeks had taken a toll [on] our members' health and safety," IUOE Local 115 business manager Brian Cochrane said in a statement. 

IUOE Local 115 took part in the negotiations with Teamsters 213, with the former representing just over 100 workers in the negotiations.

More than 130 workers at six Rempel Bros. Concrete facilities had been on strike since May 21. Another 166 workers at six other facilities operating under the Ocean Concrete and Allied Ready Mix banners had stopped work in solidarity. All three companies are owned by Lehigh Hanson Inc., part of the Heidelberg Cement Group.

Together, those 12 facilities produce about 40 per cent of the concrete for construction sites around the Lower Mainland. That includes both public and private projects ranging from housing to infrastructure.

Local builders depending on concrete for their projects had been told not to start those projects for fear of delays.

—With files from Peter Mitham, Western Investor