Union says contract talks with Nalcor not going well

Staff ~ The Telegram editor@thetelegram.com
Published on June 17, 2010

The union that represents 500 employees with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro says negotiations toward a new collective agreement are not going well.
Bob Clarke, business manager with with Local 1615 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), says the two groups are far apart on issues such as wages, a job classification system and hours of work.
Clarke said Local 1615 has never gone on strike, but he said the impasse is "definitely putting workers on the rocky road."
The union is asking for the same template used by the provincial government in reaching contracts with civil servants - 20 per cent over four years - in recent years.
Hydro, which is a subsidiary of Nalcor, a Crown Corporation, is offering increases of three, three, three and three-and-a-half per cent over four years.
Clarke said the corporation is also offering "adjustments" to some groups, but noted this will still not bring Hydro workers on par with their Atlantic Canada counterparts, or even utility workers with Newfoundland Power.
The collective agreement expired on March 31, and both sides have exchanged proposals and held talks in recent weeks.
But an agreement has been elusive, and both sides will now go to conciliation, with a week of talks scheduled to being July 26.
Clarke said Hydro workers endured the same wage restraints as other public sector workers for most of the last decade, and should be entitled to be rewarded in much the same fashion.