Naughty EMERA

Reproduced from the Halifax Co-op

By Miles Howe - Photo: Ginger Me

It would appear as though there is significant upheaval occurring on the island of Grand Bahama, and once again, Emera, the Nova Scotia-based power company, is in the thick of it. Following an island-wide blackout yesterday, which rumour initially ascribed to “industrial unrest” (but which a Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) press release blames on damage to the transmission line), today the Commonwealth Electrical Workers Union (CEWU) voted overwhelmingly to strike against the GBPC. 89 of 111 members were in attendance for this afternoon’s strike vote, and 88 voted to strike.

The CEWU’s bone of contention with Emera-owned GBPC is, according to union president Leslie Lightbourne, the wrongful firing of an individual with 40 years of service with the power company. Lightbourne notes that the individual was terminated for spilling one barrel of oil, at a market value, at time of spillage, of $179 US.

“Our contract…calls for a verbal warning…and after that, three written [warnings]. They didn’t follow that guideline, they just fired the guy outright.” says Lightbourne. “Now if you put a $179 value on oil…that you can suck up and use again…I mean, come on now. That don’t warrant firing somebody with 40 years service. This guy is 60.”

This recent firing is not an isolated incident, according to Lightbourne, and is merely indicative of policies that the new owners of the GBPC are ramming through, without consulting the CEWU.

“They have put laws in place without coming to the union and negotiating.” says Lightbourne. “They are saying now, if you spill a tank you will be suspended for three to five days, pending investigation, and up to termination. Our contract doesn’t say that. Our contract speaks about minor breaches, and major breaches. And if its a major breach, the company and the union has to sit down and look at all the particulars to say whether or not its a major breach.”

The news comes in the backdrop of Emera’s ongoing construction of the West Sunrise plant. West Sunrise stands to go online with 52 Megawatts of Diesel-generated power in the late summer of 2012, according to the GBPC website. The problem is, according to Lightbourne, union members are being made to resign their positions with the CEWU, and join up with something called “Emera Utilities Services” before Emera will hire them to work at West Sunrise. Lightbourne calls this good old fashioned union-busting, and the CEWU has put an injunction on Emera, with a court case scheduled for “some time in May”.

The Bahamian government appears to be taking serious note of the situation, and the Minister of Labour is scheduled to meet with both Lightbourne and Nova Scotia-export Sarah MacDonald, President and CEO of the GBPC, in the afternoon of March 1st.

As of press time, no representative from the GBPC was available for comment.

0 thoughts on “Naughty EMERA

  1. I never get tired of telling the story of a woman who ventured miles from home to watch a cane fire in the days when such was a form of entertainment/spectacle, She was asked to assist in saving the home of a villager whose house was being threatened, ” Me? not me atall, my house is miles away.” she said. And so it happened the wind shifted and speeded up , and very soon it was heading towards this same woman’ house.
    Now she was calling on God,Jesus, Matthew ,Mark,,Luke ,John,the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker to rush to her assistance in saving her home..

  2. When CASH to the tune of $14 million approx leaves our shores monthly, destined to Canada…(who incidentally, not experiencing a recession) there any wonder we need to be rid of those who were party to the sale of Bl&P shares to Emera..for “paltry pieces of silver”?…Been to Bridgetown lately ? Store owners cry there is a CASH CRUNCH….any wonder why ? Lord Jester Jasper,Mr. Eloquent moderator Marshall, was this by accident or design ?Dr.Frank the shifter economist…what do we say here …you being Chairman and all ?…..Can we count on your future sound advise from the Hill ? By the way did I see once Chairman of CLICO as well according to the Sunday Nation ?

  3. So far Emera-owned GBPC has not returned requests for comment, but according to Lightbourne the GBPC is attempting to run its own set of rules by the CEWU, in direct violation of the contract that currently exists between union and employer. GBPC’s recent firing of a 40-year employee over the spilling of one barrel of oil appears to have sparked off this situation, but GBPC’s circumvention of the existing contract is endemic, according to Lightbourne.
    Watch this space! Coming soon to our door steps.

  4. As if we were not warned with the postings of my plight, my findings and BU moving forward with it all. Yes! Emera…like you will be real lighting up this island soon with your wickedness….if we continue to wait and see, we shall not be disappointed, only screwed to the wall with no recourse. So be it ’cause we chat and chat but not a soul does anything positive about ensuring that Emera are kept in check…and it can be done…but not if we bury our heads in the ground and make as if ostrich is our national bird.

Leave a comment, join the discussion.