Manitoba Hydro to issue layoff notices effective today

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WINNIPEG –
Manitoba Hydro has announced that it will issue temporary layoff notices effective Friday, June 5.

The crown corporation said the notices will be sent to members of two of its unions after a month of talks.

The unions involved are Unifor and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (FIOE), and Hydro has said that around 200 workers will be laid off for a period of four months. He added that this was a significant reduction from the 700 layoffs he initially expected.

Hydro has indicated that it is unable to agree with the unions on the cost reductions required to support Manitoba’s COVID-19 response and that layoffs will begin in two to three weeks.

Jay Grewal, President and CEO of Manitoba Hydro, said it was not the preferred course of action.

“We will make every effort to minimize the impact of these temporary layoffs on customer service, while maintaining the security of our system and our employees in all aspects of our operations,” he said in a statement. communicated.

“We worked extremely hard to avoid getting there. Unfortunately, we no longer have flexibility. “

“We think the whole exercise is wrong,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Western Regional Director for Unifor. “And the cuts that will result from this decision are the opposite of what the Prime Minister promised.”

McGarrigle said the two sides are in talks over unpaid days off or other cost-cutting measures. He said the decision that led to the disagreement was not a guarantee of future layoffs. McGarrigle said if the members went ahead with the decision, they could have seen more layoffs in the future.

McGarrigle said 12 of the layoffs were from Unifor, the rest from the IBEW. The affected employees, he said, were the first responders to emergency calls, meter readers, office workers and a welder.

CTV Winnipeg has contacted the IBEW for comment, but has yet to receive a response.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Crown Services made a statement to CTV News regarding the decision.

“We appreciate that Hydro has done everything possible to avoid temporary layoffs with a very modest three-day unpaid solution, which equates to an overall reduction in labor costs of only 1% on a annual, “said the spokesperson. “Accepting or rejecting this approach is of course up to the unions involved and we respect this process.”

NDP leader Wab Kinew called the dismissal of workers “completely unnecessary and unjustifiable”.

“Sir. Pallister will not answer for his terrible economic plan because he knows that reducing a recession will only make things worse, “Kinew said in a statement. “200 layoffs on the front line are a clear sign that Mr. Pallister is ready to wreak havoc and hurt working families for partisan and ideological reasons. These cuts will also cause real damage to Hydro and endanger this essential service. “

Manitoba Liberal leader Dougald Lamont also criticized the layoffs in a news release.

“To date, neither Manitoba Hydro nor the Pallister government has offered any evidence to justify the layoffs announced today,” said Lamont.

“The only reason for the layoffs at Manitoba Hydro is because the Pallister government ordered them. It is not for the Prime Minister to interfere with the operations of Manitoba Hydro or any Crown corporation. “

The crown corporation said it has reached an agreement in principle with the Association of Manitoba Hydro Staff and Supervisory Employees (AMHSSE), which does not require layoffs. Hydro said AMHSSE members, as well as the Manitoba Hydro Professional Engineers ‘Association and exempt company personnel, would take three days of unpaid leave in lieu of layoffs.

These workers’ pay checks will be reduced by approximately 1.2 hours per pay period beginning on June 25 and ending on March 31, 2021.

Hydro said it is continuing discussions with CUPE and more details are expected next week.

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