In a statement issued late last month by FortisBC, the company said that since January 2013 they have been in bargaining with IBEW 213, the union representing approximately 225 electric employees in various generation, transmission and distribution operations occupations.
This includes power line technicians, electricians and system power dispatchers in the B.C. Southern Interior.
Gas field employees are represented by a different collective agreement and not impacted by this job action.
According to the statement the company offered a market competitive increase to wages and no changes to benefits but the union responded with escalating job action. The company says this included employees coming to work and not completing their full responsibilities.
On June 26, citing concerns for public and employee safety and the reliability of electricity service, the company locked the employees out.
The company says that the level of labour resources needed to support essential services were negotiated between FortisBC and the union with the assistance of the Labour Relations Board.
“Customers will continue to receive electricity service for their home or business, managed through our Essential Services Order, and they can reach us through our contact centre at 1-866-436-7847 and through our website, www.fortisbc.com, which has service updates. Crews will respond to power outages.”