Strike looming at Bruce Power

(Photo courtesy of Bruce Power)

The Bruce Power Local of the Society of United Professionals warns a strike is looming at the giant nuclear power plant in Tiverton.

Bruce Power Local Vice President Mike Gade said with just two days of conciliation left, the sides still far apart on a new contract and the 1,200 members and Bruce Power may soon be in a legal strike or lockout position for the first time.

“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,” said Society of United Professionals Bruce Power Local Vice President Mike Gade, who is leading negotiations for the union. “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.”

Gade said among the key bargaining issues are health and safety talks, employee advancement opportunities as well as good jobs for the next generation of Bruce Power employees.

“If we don’t have more new people coming in, and taking turnover from the outgoing staff and capturing that knowledge, then we’re going to lose 40 years of lessons learned on how to be safer in the nuclear world. In terms of health and safety, we’re seeking a commitment from Bruce Power to make sure that our voice and our decision making is ingrained in the process,” said Gade.

Gade said when decisions are made regarding nuclear health and safety, the society wants to be an active voice at the table. He also said the society isn’t yet focused on what a potential strike could do to the 1,200 members as well as the facility at Bruce Power.

“Right now, we’re focused on bargaining and coming to an agreement, and unfortunately we’re in a position where we may have to strike in order to get that fair agreement,” he said.

If a deal cannot be reached in the next two days of conciliation, the conciliator will issue a no-board report. Once the report is issued it would start the 17-day countdown to a legal strike-lockout position.

The 1,200 Bruce Power professionals represented by the Society of United Professionals include engineers, supervisors and other professional workers. The parties have been in contract renewal negotiations since November 2018. A Ministry of Labour-appointed conciliator has been assisting talks since June 24.

The Society of United Professionals’ Bruce Power Local members voted 97 per cent in favour of a strike mandate on June 19. It was the first strike vote ever taken by the Bruce Power Local members.

The Bruce Nuclear Generating Station provides 30 per cent of Ontario’s electricity.

Key issues at the bargaining table include ensuring good jobs for the next generation of Bruce Power employees, career development opportunities for current employees, and improving health and safety at the plant.

-With files from Ryan Drury