The union that represents electrical workers at Manitoba Hydro served notice of strike action as of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, an email to employees said.

The union that represents electrical workers at Manitoba Hydro served notice of strike action as of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, an email to employees said.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers met with Manitoba Hydro on Tuesday and rejected its latest offer.

On Sunday, the union served the Crown corporation with 48 hours' notice of a possible strike. It posted a message to its members saying the union will provide two hours' notice of a strike.

The Crown corporation sent an internal "Hydrogram" email to employees saying it tabled a formal offer to the IBEW "in an effort to successfully conclude contract negotiations and avoid a labour disruption. The offer follows months of negotiations, most recently conducted with the aid of a conciliator, while abiding by the financial mandates provided by the provincial government to all government agencies and Crown corporations," the internal email said Tuesday.

"Manitoba Hydro has a contingency plan in place to ensure it can continue to provide its essential service to customers and maintain public safety around its facilities and infrastructure," it said.

IBEW 2034 represents approximately 2,300 Hydro workers, including employees in generation transmission and distribution. A union spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rotating strikes are planned, with customer service staff in Winnipeg being the first to walk out, commencing at the end of day today (Tuesday) for 24 hours, spokesman Bruce Owen said.

The offer contained a number of improvements to clauses in the previous IBEW contract, with no wage increase for the first two years of the three-year term, there is a 0.75 per cent wage increase retroactive to Jan. 1, the company said.

No IBEW employee would be laid off should their position be eliminated as a result of the contracting out of the work normally performed by that employee for the fiscal year ending March 2022, the internal email said.

Workers would be eligible for "wellness days" with a maximum of two days of sick leave per fiscal year for wellness purposes and no explanation or documentation will be required.

"In addition, there are over 15 other items that will also benefit employees and we encourage our employees to review the offer in its entirety on Hydrogram..."

NDP Leader Wab Kinew issued a statement after the strike began.

"We stand in solidarity with IBEW members who have faced wage cuts, freezes and layoffs from this government — the very same workers who responded to Manitoba's ice storm in 2019. Just this week, we revealed that Hydro has more than doubled their expected profits for this year, proving that (Premier Brian) Pallister's unconstitutional wage freeze is unnecessary and unfair.

"As we learned from tragedies like the storm in Texas, affordable and reliable access to hydroelectric power is critical. Yet rather than showing these workers respect, the Pallister government is causing disruptions and putting Manitoba Hydro at risk."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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