IBEW responds to Fortis offer for binding arbitration

Solution sought for ongoing lockout, possibly before Christmas

By Art Harrison

Trail Times

After a weekend of shows of support from provincial and local labour groups and time to consider the latest offer of binding arbitration from Fortis BC, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 213 bargaining team has presented the company with a counter-offer in a last ditch attempt to end the six month lockout before Christmas.

“We presented the company with our three options we presented in the last session and as a fourth option we offered to enter into binding arbitration,” said Rod Russell, IBEW business manager. “We’re requesting some changes to the binding arbitration but I don’t think there’s anything that should be a roadblock.”

Binding arbitration would see employees return to work while the arbitration is negotiated, with an agreement by both sides of the dispute to accept the terms of the arbitrator.

Russell admitted apprehension on the part of the bargaining team and IBEW membership to agreeing to the process.

“The first time we went to the mediator it opened the door to some of the concessions the company wanted,” he said. “The only real outstanding items we have in this are the ones that were presented after being locked out.”

The latest proposal by the IBEW includes some reference to work items but largely focuses on the terms of arbitration such as the selection of the arbitrator and the items open to consideration for a new agreement.

“We don’t think this should be an open book,” said Russell. “We don’t want previous memorandums of agreement to be included and we don’t want the arbitrator’s decision to be coloured by previously rejected offers. We have a list of three arbitrators that we have agreed to in the past and we’re open to engage in discussion on an arbitrator or use one of the three we’ve previously agreed to.”

As of late Wednesday afernoon Fortis BC has not made a statement on the latest offer.

“The company did receive information from the union,” said Joyce Wagenaar, director of communications with Fortis BC. “Our labour relations group is working through it and will respond to the union. We’ll have more to say at that time.”

From the perspective of the IBEW, the decision to end the lockout now rests with the company.

“The ball is in their court,” said Russell. “If this offer of binding arbitration wasn’t just show we should be able to get to it.”

Just Posted

Slocan Valley to be ‘lit up’ with high-speed internet in 12 months

125 kilometres of fibre-optic cable to be laid from Nakusp to Playmore Junction

Vigil re-affirms belief in peace, acceptance in wake of New Zealand massacre

Nearly 100 show up for solemn event at Mir Centre for Peace

Police bust drug operation in Castlegar

Man charged, will go to court in August

Zoning mix-up nixes Shoreacres property sale

Man says the RDCK’s listings online don’t match his property’s official zoning

Castlegar coach receives Basketball BC honour

Cheryl Closkey recognized for 50 years of volunteering

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Bobrovsky perfect as Blue Jackets blank Canucks 5-0

Vancouver shut out for 10th time this season

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

B.C. VIEWS: The hijacking of our education system gathers speed

Children taught to strike and shout fringe far-left demands

Most Read