Press Release: Utilities Commission would have provided rate scrutiny



Known costs: unionized workers agreed to a two-year wage freeze

Hydro rates aren’t rising because of union workers, says the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, local 378 (MoveUP). MoveUP members accepted a two-year wage freeze on July 29th, 2010, in line with the provincial government’s public sector bargaining mandate.

“The provincial government came to public sector unions with a hard line during negotiations. They said, sorry, the cupboard is bare, and our members accepted those terms,” said MoveUP Vice President Gwenne Farrell. “Additionally, we’re facing lay-offs due to the reintegration of BC Hydro and the BC Transmission Corporation.”

The decision to accept the two-year wage freeze was difficult for MoveUP Hydro members. While they had made modest gains from 2006 to 2009, Hydro members had previously faced long periods of stagnant wages.

Rising Hydro rates can’t be blamed on the union workforce. But the Clean Energy Act pulled almost all decisions regarding projects and pricing from the BC Utilities Commission’s scrutiny. Since the provincial government drastically curtailed the oversight of the BCUC, British Columbians don’t know where BC Hydro is spending its money.

“We do know this government has committed BC Hydro to buying billions of dollars in high-cost, low-value private power,” noted Farrell. “Conservative estimates peg the average price of private power at $100 per megawatt hour, and the provincial government is forcing BC Hydro to buy 3,000 gigawatt hours above and beyond their drought year needs.”

Above and beyond private power, BC Hydro spending on outside suppliers and contractors jumped from $2.3 billion in 2006 to $3.3 billion in 2009, not including Powertech and Powerex expenditures.

MoveUP represents 2100 technical and professional employees at BC Hydro, and energy workers at other private and public sector utilities throughout BC.

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For more information contact:
Sage Aaron, MoveUP Communications Officer
604-317-6153 | saaron@moveuptogether.ca