The Union took part in Mediation at the Labour Board in Vancouver last week. There were two separate applications involving the impacts that a strike or lock-out would have on the applicants.
RTA filed an “Essential Services” application seeking to declare essential service regarding their ability to manage the water levels in their reservoir to avoid flooding in the area. The Union agreed that the present water levels do present an immediate threat for flooding and the Labour Board issued an Order. The terms of the Order provide for the necessary measures to allow RTA to continue to generate power (use water from the reservoir) and manage the water levels to avoid flooding.
Qualified management employees have been named and scheduled with the balance of the necessary hours being assigned to qualified bargaining unit members.
Hourly Control Room Operators in Kitimat and Kemano have been identified and scheduled to work during a strike or lock-out to maintain this Order. There are three members in Kemano and 6 members in Kitimat named and scheduled. In addition to the day to day Power Operations, the Board also provided that any maintenance and/or emergency functions which are necessary to maintain the essential service are also considered to be part of the Order.
RTA will continue to generate power and export to BC Hydro and part of the power generated will be used to maintain the potlines in a hibernated state. The figures provided to the LRB would have up to 375MW being exported to BC Hydro and 225MW being used to hibernate the potlines.
RTA is required to give 12 hours notice to the Union of all essential work to be performed by anyone entering the plant site. An official letter will be presented at our picket line allowing access to and from the plant site. Every 7 days, the Union will receive a breakdown of all essential work performed, names, hours and nature of the work giving us the ability to challenge it if we wish.
It’s important to understand that once the essential service is identified, most of the principles of the Order are pre-determined and are automatically applied.
Bechtel, along with the KMP Employers Association and the Back-up Tunnel Association filed an application seeking “Common Site” relief. This application was asking the LRB to make an Order which would provide that any CAW picket lines would not negatively affect their ongoing projects which are on the same sites as RTA operations.
This type of application is generally a given as employers who aren’t struck have the right to have normal operations.
Given the location of their projects and the one common road into the site, they challenged our traditional picket site at the tracks as it would likely lead to their workers refusing to cross.
RTA submitted a letter offering alternative picket sites on their property which would answer the Bechtel concerns.
There was a lot of discussion during the Mediation about different ways we could maintain our traditional picket site but in the end the Order gave direction which will change the way we’ve done things in the past.
The Union picket lines will now be at Main Gate on the grass area in front of the RTA Office and another at the Nechako Dock area. All RTA Kitimat traffic must enter and leave the site through Main Gate and all KMP traffic must use the KMP gates. All RTA Kemano traffic must use the Nechako Dock and all KMP Kemano traffic must use MK Bay Marina.
In the event of a strike or lock-out, the Union will set up our trailer at the Main Gate picket line and other potential sites. There will be a sign erected near the tracks informing the public as follows:
CAW – Rio Tinto Alcan Labour Dispute
Picket Line 3 kilometers ahead at Rio Tinto Alcan Main Gate
CAW members are restricted from any form of picketing on any of the Bechtel sites (KMP and Kemano Back-up Tunnel).
The Union will have the right to access the different project sites to monitor the work being done and to ensure these employers aren’t doing work that our members would normally perform.
It’s very important that our members understand the seriousness of violating this Order. You are instructed to comply with the terms of this Order and to follow the direction of your picket captain(s).
Following a very strong message of support from our members, on Friday July 20, 2012 at around 3:30 pm RTA served the Union with lock-out notice. Our Executive met with the Bargaining Committee and the Strike Contingency Committee to discuss the LRB Orders and the RTA lock-out notice. After this meeting at around 7:30 pm, the Union served RTA with Strike Notice.
Negotiations will continue throughout the weekend.
Issued by CAW Local 2301
July 21, 2012