TORONTO, Aug. 27 /CNW/ - A province-wide strike in Ontario's electricity transmission sector is scheduled to begin at 12:01 a.m., Monday, August 30. The strike will involve approximately 400 members of the Labourers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) at several locations around the province.
LIUNA has been negotiating for a renewal collective agreement for more than four months with the Electrical Power Systems Construction Association (EPSCA), which represents the owners of Hydro One, Bruce Power, Ontario Power Generation and other electricity system contractors.
The dispute is over the refusal by Hydro One and its contractors to match a five-year wage settlement reached yesterday with EPSCA's generation sector and its contractor members. There has historically been wage parity between the generation and transmission sectors under LIUNA collective agreements.
"The union bargained in good faith with EPSCA to give them the labour mobility flexibility they were looking for," says Harold Bartlett, Assistant Business Manager of LIUNA's Ontario Provincial District Council.
"We agreed to divide the province into four zones that will give Hydro One significant labour cost efficiencies. We did so with the understanding that EPSCA would continue to respect the longstanding principle of wage parity in the power sector.
"EPSCA then changed the rules after they got what they wanted. They are now looking to establish a two-tier wage system for power sector Labourers.
"That isn't going to happen," Bartlett says. "Wage parity has served the electricity system well for decades and there is simply no economic justification for changing that now." LIUNA points out that Hydro One's 2010 second quarter profits of $105 million were 28 per cent higher than last year's.
The union believes the employer is trying to provoke a strike in order to divert attention from the embarrassing delays on the new transmission corridor that will bring power from the Bruce nuclear station to Milton. The project is two-and-a-half years behind schedule.
"They're looking for someone else to blame for their own mistakes," says Bartlett.
LIUNA represents approximately 700 workers in Ontario's electricity sector and 85,000 members in Canada who work in the construction, industrial, health care and other sectors.
SOURCE LABOURERS' INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA (LIUNA)
For further information: For further information: Bill Reno, 416-223-7366