In the dynamic landscape of industrial operations, the completion of construction marks the beginning of a new phase: maintenance and upgrades. While construction workers move on to new projects, the operational integrity of industrial plants necessitates the ongoing expertise of skilled professionals. Historically, such maintenance roles in Canada were not always reserved for building trades workers. However, a pivotal shift occurred in 1952 with the formation of an alliance by 13 international construction unions known as the General Presidents’ Maintenance Committee for Canada/National Maintenance Council for Canada (GPMC | NMC). This marked the initiation of concerted efforts to secure maintenance jobs for their respective unions.

Today, GPMC | NMC maintenance agreements serve as a cornerstone for over 14,000 highly skilled tradespeople, providing them with stable full-time employment opportunities. With an annual value of $1.5 billion in wages and benefits, these agreements play a vital role in sustaining employment within the industry. Collaborating with more than 120 employers across seven out of ten Canadian provinces, GPMC | NMC agreements significantly contribute to the stability of the industrial workforce.

At the heart of GPMC | NMC maintenance agreements lies the mission to create employment opportunities for unionized building trades members. These agreements offer a lifeline during seasonal and cyclical downturns in construction activity, providing members with alternative employment options. Furthermore, they furnish skilled workers with the prospect of long-term, secure employment, enabling them to forge stable careers within fixed locations.

Types of Maintenance Agreements Offered by the GPMC | NMC

The GPMC | NMC administers two distinct types of stand-alone maintenance agreements tailored to the diverse needs of industrial operations:

The General Presidents’ Maintenance Agreement (GPMA) – Administered directly by the GPMC, this agreement is customized for situations where a single contractor furnishes comprehensive or supplementary maintenance services at an industrial site for a duration of one year or more. The GPMA offers a versatile multi-trade agreement, covering a spectrum of trades ranging from one to thirteen depending on the requirements of the contractor and the facility owner.

National Maintenance Agreement (NMA) – Administered by the NMC, this agreement is designed for scenarios involving multiple contractors engaged in short-term or intermittent maintenance tasks, such as seasonal shutdowns of industrial facilities. The NMA provides a collective multi-trade agreement catering to companies employing between one to thirteen trades.

Differences in the GPMA and NMA Maintenance Agreements

In 1972, the Canada Labour Code was significantly revised to include provisions related to occupational health and safety. The introduction of Part II of the Canada Labour Code, titled “Occupational Health and Safety,” marked a significant milestone in workplace safety regulation. Part II outlined the responsibilities of employers and employees in maintaining safe working conditions and established the framework for safety committees and representatives. Inspections, investigations, and enforcement mechanisms were also introduced to ensure compliance with safety regulations.

The GPMA and NMA stand as independent agreements, distinct from local union construction agreements. They are specifically structured to establish rates and conditions tailored to the unique demands of maintenance work within industrial settings. These terms and conditions deviate from those typically found in conventional union construction agreements, aligning more closely with the specialized requirements of ongoing maintenance operations.

It is important to note that the GPMA and NMA cater to diverse markets and clientele, each with distinct contracting strategies to fulfill their maintenance needs. While some project owners opt to engage a single contractor capable of delivering comprehensive maintenance solutions, others may prefer a multi-contractor approach for ongoing or supplementary maintenance tasks. Regardless of the chosen strategy, these agreements provide a framework for unionized maintenance personnel employed by contractors to collaborate seamlessly with in-house maintenance staff, who may or may not be affiliated with unions.

In essence, the GPMA and NMA offer flexible solutions to accommodate the varied preferences and operational requirements of industrial clients, ensuring that maintenance activities proceed efficiently and in accordance with established standards.

Maintenance agreements facilitated by the GPMC | NMC not only ensure the seamless operation of industrial facilities but also foster employment stability and career growth opportunities for skilled tradespeople across Canada’s industrial landscape.