Manitoba Hydro continues to respond to outage calls during IBEW strike

Utility not able to accept union’s conditions for essential services agreement

This article was published in March 2021 and may be outdated.

WINNIPEG – On the heels of a late winter storm that rolled across the province Monday evening and into Tuesday, Manitoba Hydro continued to respond to outages across the province despite the ongoing strike by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 2034 (IBEW).

Shane Mailey, Vice-President of Operations for Manitoba Hydro, said the utility has been able to respond to outages with the assistance of contingency workers, supervisory staff and contractors, as part of its robust plan for maintaining service during a strike.

“Initially, IBEW was providing two hours’ notice to Manitoba Hydro of where its rotating strikes would occur,” Mailey said. “However, in recent days these rotating strikes have been called on less than one hour’s notice or on an immediate basis, which has had an impact on our response times.”

“Still, ensuring public safety around our infrastructure and facilities remains our number one priority, along with restoration of outages as quickly as possible under the circumstances.”

“We truly appreciate our customers’ patience at this time and want them to know we are working hard to ensure they continue to receive reliable service from Manitoba Hydro,” he said.

Manitoba Hydro met with the IBEW yesterday, March 29, to discuss collective bargaining and issues concerning the union’s ongoing strike action.

Afterwards, the IBEW offered to sign an essential services agreement (ESA) with Manitoba Hydro, but only on the condition the corporation agreed to binding arbitration and other material stipulations.

As a result, Manitoba Hydro declined the offer, but reiterated its willingness to sign an ESA similar to those agreed to in previous rounds of bargaining.

“We remain committed to finding a solution through the collective bargaining process,” said Scott Powell, Hydro’s director of Corporate Communications. “We are not in a position to accept binding arbitration.”

An ESA, separate and apart from the collective agreement, outlines how essential services, such as power restoration during a weather event or other natural disaster, will be maintained by union members during a strike or other labour disruption.

“Our goal is still to resolve this strike as quickly as possible to minimize the impact on our customers, whether they be residential customer or a business,” Powell said.

IBEW and Manitoba Hydro are continuing discussions.

For more information, please contact:

Bruce Owen – Media Relations Officer