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‘Unacceptable and unsafe’: Union raises concerns over Ottawa hydro pole fix

The union representing striking Hydro Ottawa workers is raising concerns about the quality of work done in their place while they remain without a deal.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 636 posted a photo to social media Saturday showing what appeared to be a snapped hydro pole with the top half bolted to the side of the bottom half. The pole was on Leitrim Road, the union said.

“This is unacceptable and unsafe – even temporarily,” the IBEW said.

In emails to CTV News Ottawa, Hydro Ottawa said contractors and management worked on the pole in question.

“This pole was being replaced this week by our management team and contractors,” said spokesperson Josée Larocque. “The job was completed with a brand new pole replacing the one in the picture. Both jobs were done by a team of highly skilled trades workers who follow safety training and standards.”

Larocque could not immediately say how long the broken pole was bolted together.

About 400 Hydro Ottawa employees have been on strike for 46 days. The union cites worker safety as its top concern, alongside health benefits and compensation. Hydro Ottawa CEO Bryce Conrad said in an open letter published Friday that negotiations were able to address issues surrounding safety and benefits, but wages remain a sticking point.

Conrad said Hydro Ottawa is offering an average increase of 3.35 per cent per year over five years, with potential for up to 1 per cent more over the final two years.

“Our offers have been rejected by the IBEW, as is their legal right to do so. We respect their right to engage in labour action and peaceful picketing,” Conrad said. “At the same time, we look forward to the day when this strike is over and I am able to welcome our striking employees back to work.” 

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