Canadian Manufacturing

Bill to prevent strike or lockout at OPG expected to pass today

The bill will send the matter to arbitration so it can be resolved without jeopardizing the province's electricity supply, says the PC government

December 20, 2018  The Canadian Press

PHOTO: OPG

TORONTO – The Ontario government is expected to pass legislation today that would prevent a strike or lockout at a utility that provides roughly half of the province’s power.

The government called legislators back from the holiday break on Monday in an effort to end the dispute between the Power Workers’ Union and Ontario Power Generation, saying the move was necessary to stave off outages.

The Progressive Conservatives say their bill, if passed, will send the matter to arbitration so it can be resolved without jeopardizing the province’s electricity supply.

The Opposition has accused the Tories of fear-mongering and immediately turning to back-to-work legislation when there were less drastic options available.

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The union, meanwhile, has said it is disappointed with the government’s decision, which it says undermines bargaining efforts.

The labour group, which represents about 6,000 OPG employees and another 10,000 energy sector staff, has been without a collective bargaining agreement since March 31.

It said the utility’s final offer was rejected by a nearly 60 per cent vote of its membership, with the key sticking point deemed to be OPG’s refusal to grant over 300 “term” workers the same rights as full-time employees at the Darlington and Pickering Nuclear Plants.

The union issued a strike notice last Friday, prompting the government to announce the emergency session, although government sources had already said that was a possibility.

Workers would not walk off the job until three weeks after the notice was issued, however, due to rules surrounding the shutdown of nuclear equipment, the province has said.

But it said outages could begin as early as this Friday as some equipment powers down.