Manitoba Hydro natural gas workers end strike after reaching tentative deal

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Hundreds of striking Manitoba Hydro employees are heading back to work this week.

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Hundreds of striking Manitoba Hydro employees are heading back to work this week.

A four-year tentative agreement between Unifor 681 and Manitoba Hydro was reached late last week, meaning 280 natural gas workers who were on rotating strike will be back to business as usual Tuesday.

“The members are happy it’s over. They didn’t want to go on strike. They love their jobs. They love serving the public and they’re happy this is finally being put to rest so they can get back to doing their jobs,” said Suzanne King, a national representative for Unifor.

Manitoba Hydro workers strike outside the Manitoba Hydro building in June. (File)

Monday marked the 60th and final day of the strike, which started in June with a nine-day picket line and employees walking off the job requesting a pay increase similar to what employees in other departments received.

“We are pleased that we were able to reach this tentative deal through the collective bargaining process and that the rotating strike is over,” a representative from Manitoba Hydro said in a statement. “We realize labour disruptions are hard on our employees and look forward to a return to normal operations.”

The union said 230 natural gas workers across the province had been without a collective agreement since December 2020.

Negotiations began in September 2021.

“It’s a frustrating process because, not only are we bargaining with Manitoba Hydro, we’re also bargaining with the Heather Stefanson government,” King said. Our members feel like that because we took them on… in 2020 and we won, that they forced us out on strike to take it out on our membership.”

Details about the new contract are expected to be released next week.

Emergency natural gas response continued during the strike, while some non-emergency services were delayed.

The natural gas workers hadn’t been on strike since 1995, according to the union.

bryce.hunt@freepress.mb.ca

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