Hydro workers strike tonight


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WINNIPEG - A picket line will be up around Manitoba Hydro's utility services headquarters at 35 Sutherland Avenue tonight.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/10/2009 (4998 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WINNIPEG – A picket line will be up around Manitoba Hydro’s utility services headquarters at 35 Sutherland Avenue tonight.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents 3,000 Manitoba Hydro employees, has called for a strike at 6 p.m. after conciliation talks broke off earlier today.

Local 2034 IBEW represents members in more than 120 job classifications, including metering technicians, building operators, store keepers, truck drivers, mechanics, welders and lab technicians.

According to the union’s website, picket lines will be set up at most Manitoba Hydro facilities across the province, including nine locations in Winnipeg.

Manitoba Hydro was attempting to recertify managers to cover some union jobs, but a utility spokesman said there is no way the managers could provide the same level of service as the union members.

This would be the first strike at Manitoba Hydro in Local 2034’s 50-year history.

Manitoba Hydro president Bob Brennan circulated an e-mail to utility employees this afternoon, stating the IBEW will be going out on strike at 6 p.m. and thanking non-striking employees for their co-operation.

“I respect the rights of IBEW and its members to take this action,” Brennan states in his e-mail to employees. “I remain hopeful that the strike will be short.”

It’s possible that the strike could extend to a second union involved in contract negotiations. A spokesman for Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Local 681, which represents the utilities natural gas operations, said its 235 members will not cross an IBEW picket line.

Jim Dixon, a CEP national representative, said his union expects to resume negotiations with Manitoba Hydro on Monday but added that if the utility instructs CEP members to cross the IBEW picket line the CEP members will also go out on strike.

Dixon said CEP members share a common works yard with the IBEW members, where their trucks, equipment and tools are located. However, he said that CEP is making arrangements with the utility so that CEP members can be dispatched from their homes without having to cross the IBEW picket line.

“We are in a legal strike position,” Dixon said. “If Hydro doesn’t want to bargain with us on Monday, we told them to tell us now and we’ll go out on strike too.”

A spokesman for CUPE Local 998, which is also in bargaining with Hydro, could not be reached for comment.


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