Union for Manitoba Hydro members declares general strike
WINNIPEG -- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 2034 has declared a general strike as of midnight on Wednesday.
In a news release on Wednesday evening, IBEW 2034 said it had been "forced" to declare the strike after Manitoba Hydro missed a deadline of 5 p.m. on Wednesday to submit its final offer to the union.
"Our request for Hydro’s “Final Offer” was an attempt to minimize any disruption of services to the public, and to return stability and predictability to the workplace," Mike Espenell, IBEW 2034’s Business Manager said in a news release.
In a statement to CTV News, Manitoba Hydro said it tabled a final offer early Wednesday evening.
"It's hoped the IBEW leadership takes the offer to its membership for a vote," said Jay Grewal, who is the president and CEO of Hydro, in the statement.
She said she thinks the offer is fair.
Grewal also said the Crown corporation has plan in place to make sure essential and emergency services are provided to Manitobans.
The president and CEO also addressed comments made by the IBEW that said Hydro ignored negotiating an Essential Services Agreement. She said the statement is "categorically untrue."
"The union would only agree to negotiating an Essential Services Agreement if after 10 day of strike action, the corporation would agree to binding arbitration," she said.
"We believe in the collective bargaining process and hope our offer to the union resolves this strike as quickly as possible."
A breakdown in negotiations between the union and Manitoba Hydro led to a series of rotating strikes last week.
Bruce Owen, a media relations officer for Hydro, told CTV News last week that the union had turned down a three-year contract which included a 0.75 per cent wage increase in the third year retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021.
Espenell previously told CTV News the union is striking to achieve a cost of living.
"It’s extremely unfortunate that Manitoba Hydro has left IBEW with no alternative but to take this strike action," Espenell said in a news release on Wednesday, adding its members have been without a contract for more than 26 months.
"Manitoba Hydro has ignored negotiating an Essential Services Agreement with the Union, and is willing to put many of its assets as well as many of our northern communities at risk. This never-before-seen situation underscores Hydro’s callous lack of concern for Manitobans."
This is a developing story. More to come.
-With files from CTV's Tim Salzen, Ken Gabel and Devon McKendrick