Shovels are not even in the ground yet and the almost 9-billion-dollar Site-C dam is already in the middle of a big labour battle.
Hydro is proposing a mixed union non-union open site labour model to build the dam.
Allied Hydro Council representative Wayne Peppard says that is not going to fly and if Hydro persists then the union will look to jobs demands from gas plants and mines in BC’s North instead.
“And they ask for workers that is where we are going to send them at the rates and conditions that are set under those contracts. If Site-C doesn’t have that and our contractors aren’t there we are not going to supply them and if we need more workers we are going to look to Site-C for those workers that are not organized.”
He says the BC Building Trades union is pushing ahead with a charter challenge against Hydro.
As for the court process.
“Today we got notice that they, again, will be changing their lawyer with regard to their case in the court with us. We have granted them an extension. We don’t know how long that extension will be right now. Certainly we are eager to get to the courts and deal with this.”
Peppard calls the open site model “a recipe for chaos.”
Peppard says what BC Hydro is proposing will mean offshore workers will take the place of BC workers at the dam.
“They have no mandates that say they have to employ BC workers. Within our agreements we can offer them not only the protection of the contractors from being organized across the whole site. Also within our agreements we off all of the terms and conditions that would be necessary to assure that BC workers got there first.”
CB Hydro initially tried to prevent unions from organizing on the Site-C dam labour site but Premier Christy Clark told them to rethink that idea.
In response BC Hydro is defending its managed open site labour model as the best way to make sure most of the jobs go to British Columbia workers.
Hydro says it has reached out to BC Building Trades on how the two sides can work together and that the “door remains open” for further talks.