Nurses and health care workersHydro-Québec’s 60 or so onsite nurses are currently negotiating to obtain their first collective agreement. This stems from a ruling last April by the Tribunal administratif du travail (TAT) to officially recognize their union, CUPE 5514.

These nurses are assigned to various sites both large and small across Quebec. Their presence is indispensable on all Hydro-Québec sites where “you cannot reach a hospital, a local community service centre, a clinic or an outpatient polyclinic or other emergency medical services by land transportation under normal conditions within 30 minutes.”

“The many announced changes that were going to affect our working conditions along with the tone deafness and lack of recognition by management are the reasons why we decided to unionize. We wanted to maintain previous gains, improve our working conditions and address the issue of job precarity,” said Frédéric Turcotte, president of CUPE 5514.

Hydro-Québec contested the unionization process, but this did not prevent the group from forging ahead to the point that they are now negotiating their first collective agreement.

“We hope that Hydro-Québec will show openness. It’s preferable for both parties that they manage to reach an agreement during these negotiations, especially at a time when the CEO of Hydro-Québec has announced the addition of energy infrastructures and more than 5000 km of transmission lines,” said union representative Isabelle Doyon.

“We work behind the scenes to ensure that employees working on projects at various work sites or on development projects can do so safely. It is essential that nurses be present when projects are in remote locations far removed from major centres. Hydro-Quebec must continue to count on us as experienced nursing personnel who have all the necessary competencies to provide medical care to hundreds of persons who strive to come up with clean energy to produce a positive environmental impact,” added Turcotte.