FortisBC keeps electrical workers locked out, while paying lawyers and increasing demands

By staff1 on November 27, 2013

Dear Editor:

FortisBC’s lockout has left workers without a paycheque for over five months now and you think depriving those employees of an income would be enough, but for FortisBC it isn’t.

The public utility is using hundreds of thousands of dollars of your money to oppose its own workers.

Since FortisBC chose to lockout its workers on June 26, the company has spent over $350,000 dollars of its customers’ money to pay lawyers to continue this lockout.

Apparently the company would rather spend ratepayers’ money on lawyers in Vancouver than on its own workers in local communities.

In addition to lawyers, FortisBC has had to pay over $100,000 in a legal settlement because of a B.C. Labour Relations Board decision.

Again this is customers’ money being used to pay lawyers and fines.

Imagine if that money was actually being used as it was intended, such as to prevent power outages, like the recent ones in Kelowna and Penticton that left thousands of homes without power for hours.

The letters to the editor by FortisBC spokesperson Joyce Wagenaar are another example.

As director of communications, she is being generously paid to spend her time writing letters to newspapers to make her own fellow workers look bad.

Her salary doesn’t come from some magical public relations fund.

It comes from you, the ratepayer.

And as FortisBC keeps its electrical workers locked out, the utility is paying managers to do some of their jobs leading to unbelievable pay scales.

There are FortisBC managers who are being paid over $150,000 a year to read your meter.

But the biggest reason why this costly lockout continues is that FortisBC is constantly adding new and more extreme demands in bargaining.

At present FortisBC has already reported its power line technicians make 10 per cent below the industry average, but the utility won’t let its electrical employees back until they agree to a mandatory compressed work week, which means working longer for even less.

FortisBC is also requiring that they give up their right to labour action in the System Control Centre.

FortisBC’s locked out workers haven’t seen a paycheque in over five months and not only has the utility recently announced it won’t be returning any savings from the lockout to customers, it is planning on raising rates another 19 per cent by 2018.


Because locking out its employees isn’t enough. FortisBC wants more.

This lockout isn’t going to end until this company returns to the bargaining table and makes a fair offer to its employees and stops wasting ratepayers’ money on spreading propoganda.

Thank you for allowing me the space to write about this very important issue.

We hope the customers that we work so hard to satisfy understand that we want to get back to work with a fair deal as quickly as possible.

Scott Ross

IBEW member

Kelowna, B.C.


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