Ottawa, Ontario - July 11, 2023 - Hydro Ottawa activated its contingency plans when its employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) commenced strike action. Hydro Ottawa has reached out directly to the IBEW representatives and extended an invitation to meet.
“I’ve said it before, it is not our intention to negotiate through the media or to politicize the collective bargaining process.”, reiterated Bryce Conrad, President and CEO. “We have extended an invitation to the IBEW representative directly to discuss their concerns. We value and appreciate the hard work and dedication of all our employees which is why we tabled the offers that we did.”
Hydro Ottawa provided fair, responsible, and very competitive offers that exceed industry norms. The latest offer addresses its employees’ request for wage increases - putting them in the top 10 in the province - as well as increases in benefits, premiums and allowances. The offer also takes into consideration any impact on electricity rates, and balances that with the costs associated with further investments in strengthening Ottawa’s electricity grid.
Also understanding the inconvenience that power outages can cause, especially during summer storm season, the company’s contingency plan has been in place for the past two weeks with both non-union employees and contractors supporting restoration efforts. These highly-qualified people follow very robust safety procedures and standards that ensure outage restoration and repairs are done safely so everyone can go home to their families at the end of each day.
“It is no secret that the work we do is dangerous and can result in injuries." stressed Conrad. “That is why safety is, has been, and will always be my top priority.”
In 2022 – the year that Mother Nature truly put Canada’s capital region to the test – Hydro Ottawa workers logged approximately one million hours of work, and only lost 104 hours due to injury. This is thanks to the company’s commitment to safety which includes, but is not limited to:
- Up to 8,000 hours annually, in robust employee safety training programs;
- 5,143 field inspections undertaken by supervisors since 2020; and
- Close to 100 Joint Health and Safety Committee workplace and work site inspections per year.
As our crews enter communities to perform restoration work, it is crucial that the public keep a safe distance from work sites to ensure everyone’s safety and that power is restored as quickly as possible to those impacted.
While a labour disruption was not the desired outcome, the company remains committed to reaching a balanced and responsible agreement. In the meantime, the company is focused on daily operations and making every effort to minimize the impact of this labour disruption on the customers it serves.
- Hydro Ottawa and IBEW negotiations began on March 20, 2023. The collective agreement for employees represented by the IBEW expired on March 31, 2023. On May 25, 2023 Hydro Ottawa provided the union with a final offer. The offer was presented by the IBEW to employees, followed by a ratification/strike vote on May 31, 2023. IBEW members voted to reject the offer and provided the IBEW with a strike mandate.
- Hydro Ottawa provided a revised offer on June 22, 2023. The offer was presented by the IBEW to employees, followed by a ratification/strike vote on June 27, 2023. IBEW members voted to reject the offer and commence strike action.
- Hydro Ottawa provided fair and very competitive offers especially when comparing settlement trends within our industry, Our offer addresses our employees’ request for wage increases (13.6% over four years) - putting them in the top 10 in the province - as well as increases in benefits, premiums and allowances.
- As an essential service, Hydro Ottawa has activated its contingency plan to continue to maintain service to its customers and our community. The utility is committed to making every effort to minimize the impact of the labour disruption on its customers and partners.
- The IBEW represents approximately 390 Hydro Ottawa employees.
Manager, Media and Public Affairs
Hydro Ottawa Holding Inc.
Tel: 613-738-5499 ext. 2345