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Hydro Ottawa granted injunction for picket line protocol as workers strike continues

Hydro Ottawa says talks will continue this week between the utility and the union as a strike by approximately 400 employees nears the end of a fourth week.

Meantime, Hydro Ottawa says an injunction has been granted for a “comprehensive protocol” for the picket line that will “protect the ability of our non-union employees and contractors to operate safely in the field.” The utility says the injunction order includes rules around picket line delays during restoration efforts and safety parameters around work sites.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 636 began strike action on June 28, after their last contract expired at the end of March.

Hydro Ottawa says it offered employees a 13.6 per cent raise over four years.  The union said last week that issues unresolved included employee safety concerns, “workplace toxicity” and “getting a fair contract.”

Employees on strike include trade, technical and inside workers at Hydro Ottawa.

In a statement on Sunday, Hydro Ottawa said meetings took place last Monday and Thursday, and there was an agreement to continue discussions this week.

Hydro Ottawa says until an agreement is reached, its contingency plans remain in place to keep the electricity on.

“As I’ve said many times before, we truly value and appreciate the hard work and dedication of all of our employees,” Bryce Conrad, President and CEO of Hydro Ottawa, said in a statement. “I remain confident that a balanced and responsible agreement can be reached, and look forward to continuing discussions next week.”

Hydro Ottawa granted picket line injunction

Hydro Ottawa says it filed for an injunction last week following a “number of incidents on the picket line.”

The utility did not say what the incidents were, but said the injunction was to “protect the ability of our non-union employees and contractors to operate safely in the field.”

“We are grateful to the court for recognizing the need for a comprehensive protocol on the picket line and the issuance of the injunction order as we continue to maintain an essential service to our customers.”

Hydro Ottawa told CTV News Ottawa Sunday evening that the injunction order includes:

  • Rules around picket line delays when it comes to supporting essential work and restoration efforts
  • Set behaviours (i.e. picketers cannot harass, intimidate, swear, threaten, make offensive or obscene gestures)
  • Set safety parameters around work sites (i.e. in all cases, picketers can’t come closer than 50 feet from crews performing work, unless crews determine that the safety zone needs to be larger than that)
  • Picketers cannot follow crews from one site to another; they cannot picket at employees’ homes, or at contractors’ hotels or work sites

Following the two tornadoes in Barrhaven on July 13, Hydro Ottawa said picketers were holding up utility crews and materials at various locations.

The union said its members were out to draw attention to their contract dispute, but were instructed not to delay restoration efforts.

CTV News Ottawa has reached out to the International Brotherhood of Electical Workers Local 636 for comment on the contract negotiations and the injunction.

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