To the editor:
Re: FortisBC labour dispute.
A recent letter written by Scott Ross regarding the labour disruption with the IBEW 213 (electric) focused attention on FortisBC’s commitment to balance the needs of our employees and the impact those wages and benefits have on our customer rates.
Throughout the negotiations, FortisBC put forward a market competitive increase for wages and is not seeking changes to benefits.
The wage increase offered is consistent with collective agreements recently reached between FortisBC and other unionized employees including IBEW 213 (gas).
Following union-issued strike notice in May, job action escalated.
When the IBEW indicated employees in the control centre for our electric system would walk off the job, we took action to protect our customers by activating our Essential Services Order (ESO) to maintain safety and system reliability.
Unfortunately, the only way the company can activate the ESO is to serve a lockout notice to the union which we did on June 26.
Since then, we’ve actively pursued the union to join us at the bargaining table.
We thought we had an opportunity to reach an agreement in mediation held Aug. 21 with the assistance of mediator Vince Ready.
FortisBC tabled an offer exceeding what the union was looking for in wages in exchange for productivity enhancements.
The IBEW 213 essentially presented its prior offer and was not flexible in discussing the company’s proposal to reach an agreement for our employees.
Market competitive compensation is applied across the organization.
Compensation for the executive and all company managers is evaluated by a third party, and set at the median.
FortisBC is committed to our employees and customers. We want to see our employees return to work. And when the union is available to negotiate, we are prepared to return to bargaining and reach an agreement.