HEARST, Ont. – Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) working at Hearst Power Distribution Company Ltd have voted 100 per cent in favour of a strike following management’s failure to produce a fair contract offer.
“Hearst power workers earn well below the provincial average for utility workers in Ontario, and management has not even tabled a wage offer that would put us in line with inflation,” said Denis Régimbald, CUPE national representative. CUPE has asked a provincial conciliation officer to inform the Ontario ministry of Labour that bargaining has reached an impasse, starting the countdown to a strike or lockout in early September. At present, no dates for mediation talks have been scheduled.
“Our members work hard to ensure Hearst residents have reliable power, without disruptions, and strike action will be used as a last resort,” said Régimbald. “Unfortunately, Hearst Power management has pushed us into a strike or lockout position as the storm season heats up and colder weather is just around the corner.” The workers’ last contract expired March 31, 2007.
CUPE’s negotiating team has informed the conciliation officer they are ready to return to the bargaining table, to try and reach an agreement. “Our members would rather be working and protecting electrical services instead of walking the picket line, but it really depends on Hearst Power management – they have to offer a fair wage for the often dangerous work our members perform.”
“Hearst electricity service workers are among the lowest paid in the province,” said Régimbald. “We are urging residents to contact local municipal councillors to insist they get involved and offer a fair contract settlement for Hearst electricity workers.”
For further information, please contact:
Denis Régimbald, CUPE National Representative: 705-264-1269, 705-266-5634 (cell)
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications: 416-292-3999