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This article was published 18/5/2021 (250 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A two-month rotating strike by electrical workers at Manitoba Hydro is over, and the terms of a new deal will be determined by the Manitoba Labour Board.
Mike Espenell, business manager with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2034, said the union is happy the ordeal is over.
"It’s been probably one of the most frustrating experiences that, I would say, anybody at the bargaining table has been a party of — on the corporation side, as well as ours," he said Monday.
After being on strike for more than 60 days, the IBEW applied to the labour board May 10 for an alternative dispute resolution process, as allowed by Manitoba law.
The union had complained the Pallister government was not allowing Hydro to bargain wages outside of the Tory administration’s parameters, which call for zero per cent increases in the first two years of a public-sector collective agreement, followed by increases no higher than 0.75 per cent and one per cent in years 3 and 4, respectively.
Arbitrated or labour board-imposed contracts, however, have provided workers with modest wage gains in recent months.
IBEW 2034 represents 2,300 Hydro workers, who have been without a deal since Jan. 1, 2019. A board-imposed contract is likely to extend until sometime in 2022.
After receiving an application from the union, the labour board ordered an end to the strike May 13, and set July 7 as the tentative date for a hearing.
The board order did allow for the two parties to attempt to reach an arbitrated settlement. If that wasn’t possible, it would impose a new contract — which is what will occur.
Espenell said Hydro "hasn’t been able to agree to conventional arbitration," leaving a new deal in the board’s hands.
Asked for comment, Manitoba Hydro issued a brief statement stating, in part, it "continues to transition back to normal operations."
The Pallister government has proposed amendments to the Labour Relations Act that would, among other things, eliminate the ability of a union to apply to the labour board to end a strike or lockout after 60 days. The NDP has delayed passage of Bill 16 until the fall.
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.