Society of Energy Professionals

Society of Energy Professionals

November 18, 2005 15:41 ET

Union claims Hydro One victory: arbitrator settles disputes

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Energy Editor, News Editor, Tech/Telecomm Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 18, 2005) - Victory is sweet, says the union that represents professional employees at Hydro One.

Arbitrator Kevin Whitaker, appointed to determine a settlement of last summer's fifteen-week strike at Hydro One, released his ruling yesterday afternoon.

"I think our members will be pleased with this," said John Cameron of the Society of Energy Professionals. "They fought a hell of a fight for Hydro One's future employees, and they won."

Faced earlier this year with Hydro One CEO Tom Parkinson's demands that professionals swallow unprecedented and discriminatory cutbacks, Hydro One professionals walked picket lines and dogged provincial government ministers from June to September. In September, a report from a mediator appointed by the McGuinty government said the dispute couldn't be resolved by the two parties themselves, and recommended that all issues be determined by third-party arbitration. The union agreed to it readily.

Hydro One wanted:
· all professionals hired after March 31, 2005 to be subject to a wage scale 10 per cent lower than that of current employees, and lower pension and health benefits - for their entire careers
· for the huge majority, four more hours of work per week with no compensation-an eleven per cent cut in pay, or 25 days of unpaid labour per year

Arbitrator Whitaker ruled:
· No two-tier wage and benefits
· No increase in the base hours of work
· Three per cent wage increase in each of the three years of the contract

There will, however, be a few minor differences in the pension plan for new employees, and they will have the right to opt out of the plan entirely.

Society officials report that former picketers feel vindicated. Mike Sullivan, a recent hiree-one to whom the lower tier of the salary structure would have applied-said, "I would like to express how proud I am of all the Society members who took a stand against these unfair demands. Congratulations, we won."

Incredibly, the two-tier wage structure would not have affected the great majority of those who walked picket lines, losing many weeks of pay for their determination. Senior engineer Wojciech Ziolkowski said, "It was an uplifting experience. We did the right thing."

Former strike captain Laurie McIntyre said, "We can't change the situation we're faced with, but we can decide how to let it affect us and how to react. We fought, with dignity and respect, an ethical and moral battle for future generations of Hydro One employees. I was proud to be part of this, and proud to continue to stand beside my fellow employees."

The Society of Energy Professionals represents more than 6,000 professional employees in the electricity industry in Ontario, including engineers, scientists, supervisors, and others. The Society is an affiliate of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.
/For further information: please contact Brian Robinson at (416) 716-6438/ IN: ENERGY, LABOUR, TELECOMM

Contact Information

  • Brian Robinson, Communications Officer, Society of Energy Professionals
    Primary Phone: 416-716-6438