Largest Manitoba Hydro union not expecting job cuts

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The largest union at Manitoba Hydro says it’s not expecting any frontline workers will lose their jobs as the utility seeks to cut costs and pay down mounting debt.

“We’re providing the essential services to Manitobans,” said International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) spokesman Mike Velie.

The union represents 2,800 frontline Hydro workers. It negotiated a three-year 6.5 per cent pay raise last year but Velie said the union is still preparing for a wage clamp down.

“We concluded our bargaining in December 2015. But the whole climate has changed since that time,” said Velie.

Manitoba Hydro president and CEO Kelvin Shepherd said Wednesday the utility plans to to downsize by 900 employees through retirements as well as raise rates for customers.

The Electrical Workers union represents between 300 and 450 of those eligible to retire but Velie said Hydro will likely replace those workers.

“We’re not really anticipating large numbers to be lost from the IBEW. Our members are the ones that are out there generating, distributing, manning Manitoba’s energy,” Velie said

“And I don’t think customers, who ultimately are going to be seeing those rate increases, are going to be wanting to pay more for diminished service.”

Along with the 2,800 electrical workers, Manitoba Hydro employs approximately 700 members of supervisory staff, 500 engineers and 250 gas workers and meter readers.

 

CBC News Posted: Sep 29, 2016 8:24 PM CT