Manitoba Hydro will temporarily lay off up to 700 employees

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WINNIPEG –
Manitoba Hydro has confirmed that 600 to 700 employees will be temporarily laid off starting this week.

It is a decision the unions call reckless, devastating and dangerous.

Bruce Owen, Manitoba Hydro’s media relations officer, told CTV News on Monday in a written statement that employees will receive layoff notices starting this week. He said the layoffs will last four months.

“At the request of the province, Manitoba Hydro has re-examined its operations to find cost and labor savings to help support the government’s fight against COVID-19,” he said.

Owen said the layoffs will save approximately $ 11 million in labor.

Manitoba Hydro has not specified which specific positions will be affected by the layoffs or how these layoffs will affect Manitoba Hydro’s current projects and services.

In a written statement to CTV News, Minister of Crown Services Jeff Wharton said the government has asked more than 170 public sector entities to help “divert resources to the front lines.”

“As part of its own workforce strategy, Manitoba Hydro management is proposing a reduction in labor costs of only 1.8% over the 2020/21 period,” said said Wharton. “The way he manages this plan is between him and his unions, but we expect him to continue all constructive efforts to minimize the layoffs.”

Owen stated that all layoffs will follow the provisions of collective agreements with Manitoba Hydro bargaining units.

‘IT IS INNOCCITABLE’: UNIONS SAY CUTS ARE DANGEROUS MOVEMENT

In a joint statement by four unions representing Manitoba Hydro employees, the unions said their members were “outraged” by the news.

“It is unwise. Manitoba Hydro is an essential public service that operates at full capacity throughout this pandemic, “said Michelle Bergen, President of CUPE Local 998. 19, they are purely political. It will be devastating. “

The statement said the unions had proposed a work-sharing plan, but were told that it would not be eligible, and said a plan to include vacant vacancies did not provide enough savings.

“These massive layoffs will put Hydro in a dangerous position. We are working at full capacity and using safe practices during the pandemic. We are doing our part, coming to work every day, “Mike Espenell, commercial director of the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers, said in a press release.

“This pandemic could be much worse to deal with if Manitobans in care, home, work and industry had to wait longer for services due to reckless cuts from Pallister. “

MANITOBA NDP CONDEMNS HYDRO CUTTINGS

Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew was quick to intervene, condemning the cuts.

“This reduction of up to 700 Hydro workers will cause permanent damage to our largest Crown corporation and could result in higher bills for families,” Kinew said in a statement. “This will mean up to 700 unemployed families, who will find it difficult to put food on the table, and a major blow to our economy. “

Kinew added that the cuts could put workers, Manitobans and services at risk.

Wharton said he was unhappy that the NDP was “playing politics” and “causing unnecessary fear during an already difficult time for many Manitobans.”

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