Natural gas workers at Manitoba Hydro to picket on Thursday

The union that represents natural gas workers in the province says some of its members will picket outside Manitoba Hydro Place on Thursday, calling for government intervention after two years without a contract.

The strike action and rally will be the second day of picket line action against the Crown corporation.

Unifor Local 681, which represents more than 330 natural gas workers and meter readers at the utility, says 230 natural gas workers have been without a collective agreement since December 2020.

Gavin McGarrigle, the western regional director for Unifor, says wages are the sticking point in the negotiations.

“The offers that this government is making through their representatives at Manitoba Hydro come nowhere near to the cost of living,” he said last Friday, the first day of strike action.

“They don’t treat these workers the same as other skilled workers under Manitoba Hydro, and really they just drag their feet at the bargaining table.”

CBC News has asked Manitoba Hydro for comment.

On its website, the corporation says non-emergency natural gas work and inspections may be suspended or rescheduled due to labour disruptions.

The strike comes less than a year after 2,300 Hydro employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ended nearly two months of rotating strikes.

The two sides in that dispute reached an impasse, which was eventually settled with the Manitoba Labour Board deciding on the terms of a new contract.

In a media release Wednesday, Unifor said strike action will begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday, and will include a rally outside Manitoba Hydro Place on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg at 11 a.m. with the Opposition NDP.

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