by Kyra Hoggan on 16 Dec 2013 http://castlegarsource.com
Both sides of the FortisBC lockout will be getting an early Christmas present: an end to what has been a long and bitter parting of ways.
Mike Flynn, business manager of IBEW local 213, said the 225 locked out electrical workers should be looking at an immediate return to work, with some back on the job as soon as this afternoon.
“We have come to terms that the parties will refer the dispute to a binding interest arbitration,” Flynn said, explaining this means there can be no failure of negotiations – both sides will have to accept the arbitrator’s decision no matter what.
“The dispute, for all practical purposes, is over.”
Flynn said this isn’t necessarily an ideal outcome, but it’s a relief for both sides, and for the workers, who have been locked out since June 26 of this year.
“We’d much prefer a negotiated settlement with the employer, but we’re into the six month of this dispute. This was the only avenue that was going to break this dispute,” he said. “I’m happy to say that, rather than have the Labour Board appoint an arbitrator, the parties were able to agree on one themselves, namely Mr. Dalton Larson.”
He said the arbitration process could begin as early as the first part of January.
“We did not expect this dispute to go on this long,” he added. “Our people are looking forward to going back to work. All of our people are professionals and will conduct themselves as professionals when they are back on the job.”
Flynn closed by expressing gratitude for the support of organized labour groups throughout the region, as well as the residents themselves.
“Community support has been terrific.”