FortisBC and union still miles apart
Oct 5, 2013 / 8:39 am
The ongoing labour situation between FortisBC and its locked out workers represented by IBEW Local 213 is no closer to being resolved after the union rejected the latest recommendations from mediator Vince Ready.
It is not known what the recommendations were, but Fortis BC’s communication spokesperson Joyce Wagenaar says they included an increase in wages, but no changes to benefits. Other items believed to have been touched on included flexible schedules and educational reimbursements.
“Following Mr. Ready issuing the recommendations, FortisBC accepted those recommendations, and then both parties took them for ratification,” she says.
“So the company accepted it and the union took it to our employees who they represent for voting and that voting completed last night.”
The voting numbers have not been announced, but union spokesperson Rod Russell says it was a resounding ‘No’.
"We want Fortis to be bargaining not dictating,” he says, adding that the sides are close, but Fortis put a number of concessions into the latest round of bargaining that its members felt were onerous.
Russell says the unions’ members voted on the proposal without direction on whether to accept or reject the recommendations. The locked out employees want to go back to work but are not willing to be “starved into submission” when the proposal is unreasonable.
"They've got people out of work for three months,” says Russell.
“They've got mortgages and Christmas coming up, it seems personal. It's sick"
Wagenaar says FortisBC had believed this was an opportunity to end the job action, but unfortunately that was not the case.
“We had hoped to resolve this and see our employees return to work,” she says.
“I think through mediation, both parties work through an agenda and we had two full days of negotiations. But following that, Mr. Ready then pulled together some recommendations which he felt would be a balanced solution for both parties to take those forward. So we certainly accepted those recommendations and the union put them to their members to vote on.”
When asked what comes next, both sides say they are willing to return to the bargaining table, but no dates have been set for the next round of negotiations.
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