Hydro shifts blames to workers

It’s insulting to discover three government lackeys who reviewed BC Hydro have themselves enjoyed 67.1, 47.3 and 10.6 percent pay raises.

Editor: BC Hydro is facing increasing scrutiny which started with the public outcry over an application to the B.C. Utilities Commission to raise hydro rates across the province. With the past 10 years seeing unprecedented interference at BC Hydro by the provincial government, it appears it is now coming home to haunt them.

The public outcry over rate increases triggered a knee-jerk response by the government to do a “review” — done without any apparent comprehension of the work we do or the historical structure of BC Hydro. And what did the reviewers conclude — 1,000 jobs needed to be cut.

It’s insulting to discover the three government lackeys who wrote the Review of BC Hydro Report have themselves enjoyed 67.1, 47.3 and 10.6 percent pay raises, plus additional bonuses and promotions, over the last three years. Yet they were quick to blame BC Hydro’s financial problems on workers who then have to lose their jobs. Since that time, the Auditor General has put in his two cents and has questioned management bonuses as well as serious instances of direct government interference with BC Hydro’s true financial status.

One of the side effects of the increased focus on BC Hydro has been the public attention that has been unduly cast upon our members and their rates of pay. As union business manager, I find some of the negative comments I’ve read in the paper or heard on radio talk shows appalling, but I’ve also heard a lot of public support for our members and the work they do for BC Hydro.

At the end of the day, it is the provincial government that has created the problems at BC Hydro and, with good cause, they are now mistrusted. The government has lied and has been caught too many times and their attempt to deflect criticism onto BC Hydro and its workers by calling for hundreds of job cuts is arrogance at its worst. The government demand of 0 per cent across the board in next year’s round of collective bargaining is a direct smack in the face to the thousands of highly-skilled professional trades people, who risk their lives every day in the dangerous jobs we do we do at BC Hydro. It’s the board of directors succumbing to direct government interference that has led to Hydro’s financial accounting troubles — not the workers who go to work every day and do a great job at keeping the power flowing to all corners of this province.

Why does this government hate B.C.’s workers so much? With the premier trying to promote a “Families First” and a “B.C. Jobs Plan” agenda, why are good B.C. jobs being awarded to Alberta companies, owned by parent company Quanta Services from Texas? Over a billion dollars in transmission line construction contracts have been awarded by BC Hydro to Alberta-based companies.

All of these jobs now go to Alberta workers who pay personal income taxes to Alberta. Roughly $1.5 million in personal taxes will  leave the province.  And what about the corporate taxes these companies will pay going to Alberta and Texas?

Doug McKay,

business manager, Local 258,

International Brotherhood of

Electrical Workers

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