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LIUNA Local 183
Striking utility locators picketing Oakville Hydro...
Striking utility locators picketing Oakville Hydro facility
6/10/2015 11:02:43 PM

Original Article from:


A picket line has formed in front of the Oakville Hydro building at 861 Redwood Square in recent days as 16 members of PVS (Peninsula Video & Sound Inc.,) Contractors continue a three-week-old strike.

The company, which is based in St. Catharines and was purchased by Oakville Hydro Corporation two years ago, provides commercial customers with ‘locate services’ for underground utility infrastructure.

What this means is when someone like the Town of Oakville or Halton Region is digging in an area, PVS Contractors are among the people called ahead of time to make sure no one hits a gas line or a watermain during the digging.

The 16 members of PVS, who service much of Halton and some of Mississauga, began striking May 20 over issues concerning wages and benefits.

They are represented by the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA).

“This is a small industry and people from a lot of different locate companies talk to each other and our wages are by far the lowest,” said Scott Burton, PVS employee and Oakville native.

“Just compared to a few other locate companies they are anywhere from $5 to $7 an hour higher than we are. Plus a lot of these guys only do two utilities. We do five or more, ” said Burton.

According to Burton, the workers currently earn $15/hour to start. There is an increase of $1/hour annually until the threshold of $18/hour is reached.

After that, employees get a raise between one and two percent, depending on previous year’s performance and there is an incentive program.

Burton added he and others have repeatedly asked for a competitive wage increase without success or explanation from Oakville Hydro.

Burton said after pre-strike bargaining with Oakville Hydro Corporation for about six months the company did offer employees a 2.4 per cent raise.

He acknowledged it is a good raise, but said it does not bring the wages to the industry standard.

Bargaining between the two groups broke down and has yet to resume.

Oakville Hydro Corporation Vice President Amanda Kennedy declined to discuss the strike issues.

“We don’t think it is appropriate to discuss the substance of negotiations in the media,” she said.

“We just want to respect the integrity of the negotiation process.”

Kennedy would also not comment on when, or if, Oakville Hydro Corporation plans to return to the bargaining table, but said it is keeping lines of communication open with the union.

Burton voiced concerns that subcontractors are being brought in to do the job of the striking 16 PVS employees.

He noted public safety is paramount.

Kennedy said PVS Contractors is doing all it can to ensure the strike does not impact its commercial customers.

She said this includes using subcontractors and management staff and argued there is no public safety issue.

“Safety is our top priority at PVS and at Oakville Hydro Corporation and any employees doing locate work are trained to an extremely high standard,” said Kennedy.

“We’re doing everything we can to ensure all our employees, those working for PVS and any organization, feel safe and secure and are capable to do their jobs.”



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