Tag Archives: Back to work legislation

Will striking hydro workers actions be the death of us?

Christmas tree with lights – endangered?



Looks like the big Grinch this Christmas and afterwards is the Ontario Power  Workers Union (PWU) who are in a “legal position” (quotation marks mine) to strike since Friday December 14. If the strike goes ahead, these workers plan to shut down Ontario’s hydro power plants starting with the nuclear ones and then moving on to the other plants. Brownouts and blackouts would be a certainty. The nuclear generators take 21 days to completely shut down and the shutdown could begin seven to 10 days after the “legal strike position” day.

That means as early as this Friday December 21. This is scary stuff.

What is wrong with the above?

Everything. Why are hydro workers even allowed to strike? Any utility service should be legislated as essential service. It is for the safety, health and even life of people – you know, us the general public who get stuck unwillingly as the third party in these labour disputes.

This is not an inconvenience strike. People could die. Not just seniors, but all ages. Remember the big blackout  in December 2013 just before Christmas? That was caused by an ice storm so not people caused. Obviously the PWU workers don’t remember it. And they were the heroes then, working so hard to restore power. How the mighty are falling – as the saying goes.

But this strike – if it goes ahead and people die from no heat and no light because of workers’ actions, isn’t this murder? The workers have the intent to shut down the power knowing what it could do. At the very least, criminal negligence causing death. Actions bring on consequences.

But there is some hope from our stick-wielding (figuratively speaking) new Premier of Ontario – Doug Ford. I am not a fan of his, but if he can pull off what he is trying to do (and it is legal), then maybe it will be the one good thing he has done. Mr. Ford has called the Ontario legislature back to business, back early from its Christmas hiatus, and his party is trying to pass back-to-work legislation with the issues between OPG and PUW to be solved by arbitration.

That’s if NDP opposition leader Andrea Horwath doesn’t stop it. She is over-making an effort to do so. But hopefully Ford’s Conservative party will out number her in the vote and hopefully the vote will be done by Thursday. It would also be good if the Conservatives passed legislation for utility strikes to be illegal.

His late brother Rob Ford did this when he was mayor in Toronto – but not for a utility – for Toronto’s public transit system (TTC) workers.

In this day and age, strikes – full scale or otherwise – are not in anyone’s best interest and don’t really solve anything. Both sides suffer but it is us, the third party. the general public. who suffer the most. And we are not even on either side and so not involved until the plug is pulled (pun intended here) with a strike. Negotiations with binding arbitration might have to be the answer – at least for essential services. And more services need to be legislated as essential.

So, I’m keeping toes crossed (can’t type with crossed fingers) that Ford’s legislation gets passed in time this week and the strike and its killing consequences are avoided.

Meantime, you can follow stories on this at various newspapers and TV stations on line (as long as we have power and batteries don’t die on cell phones), such as these. I’m not providing direct story links as the stories will be updated.

If you Google “Ontario Power workers and hydro strike” with or without Doug Ford’s name added you’ll get a list of the stories.

Let’s hope we will all be in the light for Christmas and after.

Cheers (I hope)


Only Child Writes




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Filed under Actions Consequences, Essential Services

Only Child on postal strike and GM closing Oshawa plant

I was 16 and became close to a pen pal (if you are over 50, remember those?) living on the Prairies. We wrote often and after mailing my letter to her I would start looking in my mailbox for her reply. Then the unthinkable to a teenager happened. Our correspondence came to a halt. We didn’t fight and neither of us had stopped writing.

But the Canadian postal service had stopped. No mail delivery because the union and its workers were on strike.

I had never heard of or experienced strikes before. But I learned fast that strikes between employees and management aren’t just between them. There is a third party, an innocent pary maybe you could call them victims – they are called “general public”.

It was my rude welcome to the club. From then on I never was in favour of strikes as a means to settle labour disputes – no matter which side was at fault (and I learned that most of the time there was fault on both sides.)

But not on the third party’s – general public – side.

Yes, I once worked for a government agency and belonged to a union. We weren’t allowed to go on strike because we were considered essential services. But we all got very good raises in pay at contract negotiation time.

Now the federal government has finally passed legislation ordering these postal  strikers back to work.  And their union leader Mike Palecek has the nerve to stick his face in front of a camera and complain that it is not right. Excuse me, but just obey the law. Your strike may have been legal up to now, but now it is time to sort and deliver the mail backlog.

And maybe Mr. Palecek should turn his attention to the real worker problem – not a strike, but a company closure. I’m referring to General Motors closing all of its Oshawa, Ontario, Canada plant by the end of 2019. It will put over 2500 out of work, just from General Motors alone. It will also affect where they took their business – shops, restaurants.

And all these are people. It breaks my heart when something like this happens. This is not disgruntled greedy workers striking for more money and perhaps what they want in working condition improvements. This situation is  no pay, no job. Some of these GM workers have moved their families several times to follow where GM put them, where the jobs were. Now they have nothing, thanks to a parent company decision.

And finding out about this in the Christmas season makes it worse. Even Scrooge will be crying into his Christmas tree.

So Mr.  Palecek – quit complaining, do your job, and let arbitration sort it out. You will have enough to do to sort out the mail – despite online shopping (or maybe because of it) there is still lots of mail waiting to be processed.

Several empty mailboxes awaiting mail delivery

And when you do this, you might also like to pay attention to the GM workers situation. And count your blessings.


Only Child Writes


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Filed under Canada Postal Services, CUPW, Labour Unions and Strikes, Mail Delivery Canada, Unions and Strikes