The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union (IBEW)Local 213 has been in bargaining with FortisBC since January of this year.
On Wednesday, June 26 FortisBC locked out 240 of it’s employees.
The main issues involved in the dispute are wages and control over job descriptions.
IBEW 213 filed strike notice on March 13 and began withdrawing non-essential services in mid-May. The services withdrawn were those such as using computers or doing paperwork. Work was completed, but documentation was not.
An essential services agreement was worked out with the company and the union in May.
Joyce Wagenaar director of communications for FortisBC said, “When job action escalated, we felt there were distraction issues. The company has activated the Essential Services Order which sets out service and staffing levels to ensure service and reliability for our customers.” She also stated that the contact center employees were not affected and that crews would respond to power outages.
Customers can reach FortisBC through the contact center at 1-866-436-7847
“We are sorry for any inconvenience to the public,” says Rod Russell who represents the locked out employees. “It really is unfortunate.” He also noted that some employees are currently giving notice and leaving the company.
The union presented their final offer in late April. The company then put its proposal to the workers in a final vote. Of the 90.4 percent of members who cast a ballot, 88.4 percent rejected it. “It’s a very clear message,” said Russell. “I’m sure that they (the company) think that they are right, but I know we feel we are. We are looking for a fair and reasonable deal,” he said.