The energy sector of CUPE, which represents the vast majority of Hydro-Québec employees with the Rio Tinto Electricity North stations in the Saguenay, have flatly rejected comments by the Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon.
Yesterday, before a parliamentary commission, he declared that “job creation is not on the list of requirements” when it comes to distributing megawatts of electricity. This contradicted Premier Legault’s statement last week that projects would be selected based on their ability to “bring good paying jobs” and move to a “low-carbon Quebec.”
CUPE maintains that the creation of good jobs must remain one of the fundamental conditions of distributing electricity to companies, such as aluminum smelters or those operating in other sectors of the economy.
“We decided to sell electricity at a discount to aluminum smelters primarily to get good paying jobs in return. If we drop that requirement, the only ones who would benefit would be the company shareholder, leaving little to regional communities,” says Dominic Champagne, Vice-President of the CUPE Quebec Energy Sector.
The union representing workers at the Rio Tinto Electricity North stations (STEEN) feels the same way.
“If we want our assets to last for a long time, we must ensure that any sales at a discount are done on the condition of creating and maintaining well-paying jobs. For regions such as Saguenay-Lac Saint-Jean, it’s a guarantee that economic development will benefit everyone there,” says the President of STEEN, Jean-Philippe Lévesque.
In addition, CUPE is fully supportive of the resolution unanimously adopted at the last FTQ convention whereby it was proposed that the Fédération exert pressure on the Quebec government to bring the production, transportation, and distribution of energy in Quebec under public ownership.