FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 258 union is waiting for a response from BC Hydro over a grievance filed by the union on November 16th.
IBEW 258 Business Manager/Financial Secretary, Doug McKay says BC Hydro violated the collective agreement when it implemented a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.
“We certainly understand that they violated our collective agreement, they did other things out of this policy, and we’ve laid it out to them,” said McKay. “What we’ve asked today is to get back to us as quickly as possible because we’ll most likely have a third party involved.”
McKay says they’ve asked for more time as the deadline for workers to have at least one shot is November 22nd. Workers who received one shot have until January 10th to get their second shot, or risk being placed on leave.
“We asked them to back off on this and not start sending people home on Monday. We talked about testing because we’ve got different utilities who are doing testing and things like that. We’ve asked for a little more time until January 30th to give us some time to go through this mess, and see if we can come up with a better policy that we can all work with.”
McKay says health and safety trumps privacy issues, but he says it’s a controversial issue when the responsibility is shifted away from the people who are meant to deal with it.
“The only problem is that this has been shifted from the people who should have dealt with it, the government and Dr. Bonnie Henry’s group, to BC Hydro. The CEO of BC Hydro made statements on the website that mandatory certification would never happen.”
McKay says the concern raised by his fellow union members is that companies should not have any right to enforce a vaccine mandate.
“I tell them, unfortunately, they’re the ones who pay the bills, so they can do what they’re doing.”
McKay says there’s nothing in the collective agreement that says BC Hydro cannot use non-union workers.
“I’ve been in this business a long time, and I’ve got some people on the other side of the Rockies that would be champing at the bit to come over and help BC Hydro out. There’s no condition that says they can’t use non-union.”
McKay repeats that his main concern is health and safety.
“All we can do is make sure people are safe. Health and safety trump privacy and everything else.”
While he says he’s not holding his breath, McKay hopes for a speedy response from BC Hydro.
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