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SUDBURY The union representing 82 inside and outside workers at Greater Sudbury Hydro Plus Inc. has agreed to sit down with management and a provincial conciliator on May 13th, to try and hammer out a collective agreement and avoid a strike that would put the citys power supply in jeopardy.

We hope management will take their long list of concessions off the table, says Wyman MacKinnon, president of Local 4705 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing the workers who keep Sudbury lights on, including hydro lines maintenance, new hook-ups, billing and repairs. Our members have voted 93% in favour of strike action if a fair contract cannot be reached. The employer has tabled a list of 21 concession demands, including the elimination of retiree benefits and other clawbacks.

This utility pumps 2.4 million dollars a year into city coffers and local politicians have decided they want 3.7 million from now on, says CUPE National Representative Dennis Burke. Management wants to squeeze more money out of workers even though 23 jobs have been cut from the utility since deregulation and downloading in 2001, and workload has increased substantially. Greater Sudbury Hydro Plus is owned by the city and run by a board of directors appointed by local councillors.

We urge residents to contact board members and local councillors, including the mayor, to tell them they must treat these workers fairly in order to avoid a strike, says MacKinnon. Our members are committed to keeping the lights on and the last thing we want is a strike, but we need to see some good will on the other side of the table.

Conciliation talks have been scheduled for May 13th. The local could be in a legal strike position as early as June, depending on progress at the talks. A strike would mean no new construction power hook-ups, increased risk of blackouts and long delays for repairs and localized outages. The workers last contract expired March 31st.

Whether we have a strike or not will depend on management and councillors will to take concessions off the table, says MacKinnon. Thats why were urging residents to speak up now. Theres no reason for the city and the board of directors to take this anti-worker approach.


For further information, please contact:
Wyman MacKinnon
President, CUPE 4705
705-560-4705 (off.) - 705-669-8526 (cell)

Dennis Burke
CUPE National Rep.705-674-7557

Robert Lamoureux
CUPE Communications