FortisBC manager severely injured as lockout of IBEW members nears six months

by Nelson Daily Staff on 18 Nov 2013

The FortisBC lockout continues, closing in on month number six of the labour dispute.

The FortisBC lockout continues, closing in on month number six of the labour dispute.

FortisBC has confirmed a manager was injured conducting electrical work in Kelowna earlier this month.

Joyce Wagenaar, Director of Communications at FortisBC said told The Nelson Daily the electrical employee was injured (Friday) November 1 performing operational work in the Central Okanagan City.

“All managers performing operational duties are well trained and experienced and operate in accordance with safety regulations and security standards in B.C. and Canada,” Wagenaar said.

“Overall, our safety record has improved during this labour dispute.”

FortisBC managers have been doing the work of unionized workforce since the company locked out members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 213 June 26.

More than 200 employees (all with FortisBC Electric) are affected by the lockout that stretches from Princeton to Creston and up through the Okanagan Valley to Winfield.

FortisBC and IBEW Local 213 have been without a contract since January 31, 2013.

IBEW Local 213 business manager, Rod Russell said he learned the incident happened when the manager was working with a crane (Hiab) truck.

“He suffered a compound fracture of his tibia/fibula and a broken shoulder,” said Russell, adding WorkSafe was investigating the accident.

“I was told he has undergone three surgeries, is home recuperating and will be in a wheel chair for a period as he recovers.”

Russell said FortisBC did its best to keep news of the accident from the public.

“FortisBC was very diligent in trying to keep this quiet and I am not sure if they followed WorkSafe reporting procedures or not,” Russell said.

“It is very unfortunate and we hope not only that he make a full recovery but also that there are no more incidents.”

“All of our work is going to be that more difficult to perform with the changing season,” Russell added.

No new negotiations between FortisBC and IBEW Local 213 have scheduled since the union voted down the most recent contract offer.

The vote was 59 percent against accepting a tentative five-year deal.

“We will continue to work toward reaching an agreement that is fair to our employees and responsible to our customers and are open to exploring solutions with the IBEW 213,” Wagenaar said.

Russell echoed those comments of Wagenaar saying the sides are too close not to have reached a contact agreement yet.

The last time there was a strike at the power company was in 2001. The job action lasted just short of four months.

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