BC Hydro Must Respect The Charter of Rights — and WAC Bennett’s labour model of building the Site C Dam

Monday, March 02, 2015

The BC Building Trades, and the 40,000 men and women it represents, are taking BC Hydro to the BC Supreme Court for violating Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms in its labour plans for the Site C Dam.

Hydro’s proposed site conditions would deny Canadians the right to organize on Site C. The right to organize is enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

We are also challenging the public utility’s decision to block the right of people — union and non-union — to change jobs at Site C when they wish. BC Hydro would ban workers for two months from Site C if a worker chooses to change jobs at Site C. This is an illegal restraint of trade.

BC Hydro is also rejecting WAC Bennett’s proven labour management model for building major infrastructure. By casting aside the Project Labour Agreement, BC Hydro’s jeopardizes the ability of Site C contractors to access BC Building Trades’ 40,000 skilled and experienced trades people. This risks labour shortages, delays, cost overruns and lead to hiring of offshore workers.

“BC governments and BC Hydro used a Project Labour Agreement in the construction of the WAC Bennett Dam and every major project since 1963,” said Tom Sigurdson, Executive Director, BC Building Trades.. “Project Labour Agreements are also used on multi-billion dollar projects here in BC, like the Kitimat modernization project and even the John Hart dam refurbishment on Vancouver Island, a BC Hydro facility.

“There are also large-scale power projects underway in Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and Manitoba -- all are being built under PLAs. Why is BC Hydro rejecting this proven model now — and violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?”

PLAs are widely used for major construction projects because they allow the client or prime contractor to sign a master agreement, outlining labour costs and conditions which helps ensure budgets can be projected and met. Both union and non-union contractors can bid for work and all employees work under the same terms and conditions agreed-upon under the PLA.

“As investors and taxpayers look to spend billions of dollars in British Columbia — in LNG plants, Site C and other projects — BC Hydro is unnecessarily injecting risk and uncertainty,” said Sigurdson. “Multi-billion dollar projects like Site C employ thousands of workers. Only through a Project Labour Agreement can the Building Trades guarantee the quality labour supply Site C will need.”

"The Allied Hydro Council has negotiated and administered all major hydro projects in BC since 1963. Our affiliates provide the qualified workers needed when required," said Wayne Peppard, Business Representative from the Allied Hydro Council. “We believe that Site C should be built by British Columbia’s best trades people, who will earn and spend their money at home, boosting our communities’ prosperity. That’s how WAC Bennett did it. And so has every Premier since."

“BC Hydro should not be experimenting with a model that opens the door to off-shore workers and could lead to cost over-runs. The taxpayer needs Site C built on time and on budget. BC Hydro should stick to the labour model that WAC Bennett gave them.”

For More Information: 

Contact the BC Building Trades office
(778) 397-2220

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BC Building Trades

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