Bruce Power workers could go on strike this summer
Transmission lines that run from the Bruce nuclear power plant on Lake Huron to Milton, Ont., are seen on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011 just north of Hanover, Ont. (The Canadian Press/Colin Perkel)
Published Thursday, July 11, 2019 1:37PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 11, 2019 4:18PM EDT
Hundreds of workers at the Bruce Power nuclear generating station could walk off the job next month as the union says negotiations with the company have stalled – putting a portion of Ontario’s electricity supply in jeopardy.
The union says 1,200 workers, including engineers, supervisors and other workers could go on strike mid-August unless the two sides can work out a deal during the remaining two days of bargaining.
“We have been working tirelessly to find a way to reach a fair contract for everyone but there has been little progress on the big issues,” says Mike Gade with the Society of United Professionals.
Gade, who is leading the talks for the unions, says major sticking points include improving health and safety at the Lake Huron plant, career development opportunities and guaranteeing future employment.
“We need the company to get serious about negotiating a deal because there is a lot at stake for every Ontarian if we can’t.”
Bruce Power, which is currently responsible for 30 per cent of the province’s electricity supply, says talks with a Ministry of Labour conciliator are expected to continue next week.
“Bruce Power has a long history of positive labour relations and is committed to an open-dialogue and continued engagement to reach a new Collective Agreement,” the company said in a statement.
If a deal cannot be reached the union says a no-board report would be issued by the conciliator, triggering a 17-day countdown until workers are either locked out or can legally strike.
The union says the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission would have to determine how many employees would be deemed essential in order to maintain safety standards. The 17-day window would also allow employees to safely shut down nuclear reactors before a strike.
It’s unclear, however, whether the Progressive Conservative government would intervene to prevent strike action.
Lee Greenberg, a spokesperson for Labour Minister Monte McNaughton, said in a statement that the province is confident the parties can reach a settlement.
“We encourage the employer and the union to make every effort to resolve their differences at the bargaining table,” the statement read. “A Ministry of Labour mediator is available to assist the parties at the bargaining table.
Ontario has an excellent record of dispute resolution. In fact, 98% of all agreements are reached without strikes or lockouts.”
Last December, the legislature was recalled allowing the government to pass legislation to prevent a strike by Ontario Power Generation workers just before the Christmas season.