October 8, 2021
Treaty 1 and Dakota Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB—The true cost of the Pallister PC’s interference in Manitoba Hydro was revealed today, after government documents show Hydro’s strike cost Manitobans $18 million.
“After years of raising rates, selling off subsidiaries and forcing an illegal wage freeze on workers, now we know how much Brian Pallister and his cabinet’s interference in Hydro has cost Manitobans,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “They caused a strike that not only put thousands of people out of work, but cost ratepayers millions of dollars. The Pallister PCs and their illegal wage freeze lost at arbitration and Manitobans are left to pick up the bill.”
Kinew tabled government documents in Questions Period that show the strike, and the cost of hiring replacement workers, racked up $18.4 million in costs. These costs will be shouldered by Manitobans, who will see it on their Hydro bill every month.
In the spring, about 2,300 Manitoba Hydro workers went on a rotating strike after the Pallister PC’s interfered in contract negotiations to demand the workers take an illegal wage freeze.
The strike, which lasted more than nine weeks, was eventually sent to the Labour Board for independent arbitration, thanks in part to the NDP delaying a PC bill which would have eliminated arbitration requirements. The Labour Board ruled against the PCs and mandated Hydro to pay workers fairly.
“The Pallister PC’s meddling in Hydro wasn’t just wrong, it had expensive consequences,” said NDP Hydro critic Adrien Sala. “Workers deserve better than a government that tries to cut their wages in a pandemic—and Manitobans shouldn’t have to clean up the PC’s mess. Brian Pallister and every PC MLA should pay for the cost of that strike.”