On­tario moves to block strike by OPG work­ers

PressReader - Tke Channel - On­tario moves to block strike by OPG work­ers
The On­tario gov­ern­ment has in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion that would pre­vent a strike or lock­out at one of the prov­ince’s ma­jor power util­i­ties, a move its says is nec­es­sary to avoid power out­ages over the hol­i­days.Labour Min­is­ter Lau­rie Scott says that if passed, the bill would send the dis­pute be­tween the Power Work­ers’ Union and On­tario Power Gen­er­a­tion to ar­bi­tra­tion.“This will pre­vent the ef­fec­tive shut­down of as much as half of On­tario’s elec­tric­ity sys­tem,” she said.The Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives re­con­vened the leg­is­la­ture Mon­day — just over a week af­ter law­mak­ers rose for their win­ter break — to ta­ble the bill that would stop job ac­tion at the util­ity.The move has been crit­i­cized by the of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion, who say the prov­ince didn’t even wait for the strike to begin be­fore threat­en­ing to force work­ers back on the job.NDP Leader An­drea Hor­wath says the prov­ince had other op­tions avail­able, but “went straight to the big­gest ham­mer avail­able, which is back-to-work leg­is­la­tion.”Green Leader Mike Schreiner, mean­while, said he looked for­ward to re­view­ing the de­tails of the leg­is­la­tion and hoped it would re­spect the bar­gain­ing process.“It is im­por­tant that this gov­ern­ment re­sists the urge to pun­ish work­ers as they have done with other leg­is­la­tion this fall,” he said in a state­ment.The emer­gency ses­sion was an­nounced in a state­ment Fri­day evening by gov­ern­ment House leader Todd Smith. The no­tice of a strike also came on Fri­day, a day af­ter mem­bers of the Power Work­ers’ Union re­jected a con­tract of­fer from OPG, putting them in a le­gal strike po­si­tion.The or­ga­ni­za­tion that man­ages On­tario’s power sys­tem has said a strike at OPG would put the sys­tem’s re­li­a­bil­ity at risk.“The shut­down of OPG’s nu­clear and hy­dro­elec­tric fa­cil­i­ties could oc­cur in ap­prox­i­mately three weeks. At that point On­tario would not have the gen­er­a­tion needed to meet con­sumer de­mand and cus­tomers would begin los­ing power,” the In­de­pen­dent Elec­tric­ity Sys­tem Op­er­a­tor said in a state­ment Fri­day.The gov­ern­ment has said a strike could cause power out­ages in as lit­tle as a week.The union, which has been with­out a col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment since March 31, has said OPG’s fi­nal of­fer was re­jected by a nearly 60 per cent vote of its mem­ber­ship.The main stick­ing point in talks is OPG’s re­fusal to grant over 300 so-called “term” work­ers the same rights as full-time em­ploy­ees at the Dar­ling­ton and Pickering Nu­clear Plants, the union said.The union rep­re­sents over 16,000 work­ers in On­tario’s en­ergy sec­tor, in­clud­ing roughly 6,000 at OPG.

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