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Manitoba Hydro workers’ union declares general strike

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2034 says it will begin a general strike Thursday morning. File / Global News

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 2034 says it’s declared a general strike for all its Manitoba Hydro workers effective midnight Thursday.

The labour action will implicate around 2,300 employees, who have already been engaged in rotating strikes for over a week.

“Basically we’ve been forced to declare this labour action as a result of Manitoba Hydro’s unresponsiveness. We asked for a ‘final offer’ as of Saturday, and we’ve still yet to receive one, so we’re in this position,” says Michael Espenell, IBEW 2034 business manager.

Read more: Manitoba Hydro employees strike after negotiations hit standstill

“We’re hopeful we can get back to the table and start negotiating something, it’s just been unresponsive to this point, so it’s unfortunate.”

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A statement from the union says with assistance from a mediator, the ‘final offer’ deadline was extended to 5:00 p.m. March 17, which has now lapsed.

Meanwhile, Manitoba Hydro says they did indeed table a final offer Wednesday evening.

“It’s hoped the IBEW leadership takes the offer to its membership for a vote,” said Manitoba Hydro president and CEO Jay Grewal. “We understand this is a difficult time for everyone involved. We find ourselves in a position that no one wants to be in. We believe our offer is fair.”

Grewal said Hydro has robust contingency plans in place to ensure it can continue to provide essential service.

The IBEW says it has now been without a contract for more than 26 months.

Read more: Manitoba Hydro workers just looking for fair process: union rep

It has said some of its major proposals included a wage increase reflecting what other Hydro employees received last year, a COVID-19 stipend for front-line members, and a return of three unpaid days of it says was forced on members.

Espenell says IBEW members “generate, transmit and distribute all the electricity in the province,” and are responsible for all the generating stations.

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Manitoba Hydro workers go on strike – Mar 10, 2021

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