IBEW 213 Plea for Public Support


October 23, 2013

This is IBEW 213, Locked Out FortisBC Electric’s story

On June 26 2013, FortisBC (electric) made the decision to Lock-Out 225 of their Employees.  The past four months has been painful for our Members, approximately 33% of their annual income is gone, but for them it’s not about the money.  It’s about the future, and their families.  FortisBC has asked for many concessions and continue to add more during bargaining/mediation, making a resolution difficult.  Some concessions will take time away from Members’ families and make child care arrangements virtually impossible.  FortisBC won’t allow Employees to add Family Day to their list of Statutory Holidays, yet claim they are a family oriented and community minded Company.  When a single father told them he couldn’t work the shift change due to child care complications, he was told FortisBC wouldn’t be the place for him.  He had to find employment elsewhere. They also want employees to subsidize the corporation by traveling in their own vehicle, on their own time to remote report points.

During the Lock-Out Fortis Employees have experienced unimaginable devastation. Some of them have lost immediate family members.  While they grieve the loss of their family member, they stress about their fiances. FortisBC won’t allow the Members to take their Holiday Pay, this would help alleivate some of the extra costs of the Funerals.  These are just some of the silent burdens locked out employees are facing.

While our Members silently suffer, Managers often shout various messages at them – like, “you’re all replaceable!”  Most employers struggle to attract skilled labour.

The Members Locked Out in the Kootenay’s don’t think about themselves and their own situation, they’ve turned their attention to the community.  With winter and storm season fast approaching they worry about the power outages and how people will keep warm and safe.  They’re volunteering their time to chop, load, and pile firewood.  Local communities are suffering from sub-standard electrical service and significant economic struggles as employees do not have the spending power to continue to support businesses in their communities.    

This is FortisBC’s Story:

Last year the company’s gross revenues were $293 million, with net earnings (profit) of $49 million.

FortisBC CEO has seen his pay increase 154% since 2006, to $1.36 million last year. BC Hydro CEO earns $500,000, almost three times less than FortisBC’s CEO.  So, why would FortisBC CEO Lock Out his Employees?  They claim it’s due to safety issues, but we know that’s not true – safety is paramount to IBEW 213. 

FortisBC is applying to raise its rates by an additional 3.3% even though they are already nearly 20% above BCHydro rates.

In a recent report to the BC Utilities Commission FortisBC included an industry survey the utility itself conducted and found FortisBC workers are paid less than average, in some cases, far less than average.

A large portion of the FortisBC work force, Power Line Technicians make 10.4% less than the industry average; Crew Leaders 6.9% less, CP&C Technicians 3.2%, and Electricians 2.9% less.

Please help end this lockout by sending a complaint to the CEO John Walker about FortisBC’s treatment of its workers, its never-ending rate increases, and its’ extremely overpaid management. Please email: John.Walker@fortisbc.com – subject line "FortisBC Lock-out of IBEW 213" Or you can cut and paste the below message to send.  These Members desperately need your support.

Dear John Walker,

CEO FortisBC

I am shocked and appalled by your treatment of Fortis employees.  While you make millions and the company earns exorbitant profits, you leave your members out in the cold to suffer emotionally and financially. The Employees want the opportunity to be an active member of their family and community, but the concessions you demand won’t allow that.

Please go back to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair deal for all involved.  This will allow your customers the service and support they deserve and pay for.  Your dedicated employees deserve better.



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