Firefighters and City headed to arbitration

With the Kamloops firefighters' union and the City of Kamloops set to go to arbitration over contract negotiations, the president of Local 913 is confident the decision will go their way.

"I would be shocked if we got less than our peers in the Lower Mainland," said Kris Krutop. "I would truly be shocked."

Negotiations have been at a standstill since mediation failed and the City applied for arbitration in early August.

This week, the City and firefighters' union got letters from the labour minister's office informing them the application was accepted.

They will now consult lawyers, choose an arbitrator that is acceptable to both sides.

The sticking point is over wages. Firefighters throughout the province all receive wages within about one percentage of each other with monthly paycheques of about $6,350 a month, according to a March 2012 arbitration settlement for Vancouver firefighters.

Krutop said short of being made an example of, the Kamloops firefighter union will almost certainly get the same settlement.

"An arbitrator is like a judge. They exam cases, trends, patterns and they make their decision," he said. "There's nothing usually too outrageous that comes out of an arbitration process."

City of Kamloops human resources manager Lori Rilkoff said that remains to be seen.

"You never know with an arbitrator. It's a neutral third party to look at the case and it's part of the process, so it's hard to say."

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