By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Manitoba Hydro says it has reached an agreement with another group of workers to avoid temporary layoffs at the Crown corporation.
The provincial Crown utility says the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union has agreed to have its members take three unpaid days off before next April as an alternative.
The utility was originally looking at 700 temporary, four-month layoffs as part of an order from the Progressive Conservative government to reduce costs during the pandemic.
But senior managers, engineers and others avoided layoffs in their sections by accepting three unpaid days off instead.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents office and technical workers, accepted a similar deal earlier this month.
Hydro spokesman Bruce Owen says that leaves 12 layoff notices that have gone out to Unifor — the union that represents front-line workers in the natural gas division.
“The 12 layoffs are obviously a major reduction from the roughly 700 we first anticipated weeks earlier,” Owen wrote in an email Wednesday.
Unifor said the temporary layoffs could have a dramatic impact on Manitobans’ safety.
“Unifor members at Manitoba Hydro are the first to respond to explosions, gas leaks, carbon monoxide alarms, fires and other natural gas emergencies, as well as perform appliance inspection,” a union press release, dated Monday, said.
“These recent layoffs, added to job vacancies not filled since 2018, (have) eroded the gas division’s ability to respond to emergencies by 25 per cent.”