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Government introduces bill to avert strike at Ontario Power Generation

Ontario's government introduced legislation aimed at averting a strike at province-owned Ontario Power Generation Inc.

Workers at the company that provides as much as half of the electricity in Canada's most populous province served a strike notice Dec. 14. Ontario's grid operator determined a strike at the company, known as OPG, would leave the province short of power, resulting in blackouts and brownouts, the government said in a statement. Members of the Power Workers Union have twice rejected tentative settlements since their contract expired March 31.

"We want to see a fair deal reached between the parties," Ontario Labor Minister Laurie Scott said in a Dec. 17 statement. "Our proposed legislation will remove the risk of widespread power outages and allow dispute resolution to happen appropriately."

The government called legislators back from their winter break Dec. 17 to consider the bill in a special session. The Power Workers Union represents approximately 6,000 workers at OPG including tradespeople, technicians and nuclear operators. The company has just over 11,000 staff. The union's main objection is OPG's refusal to grant more than 300 term employees at the Darlington and Pickering nuclear plants the same rights as full-time employees, the Canadian Press reported.

The law will require debate and approval from the full legislature, although Premier Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative Party has enough votes to ensure its passage. Although the union's strike vote passed, it has not yet announced plans for work stoppages.

OPG operates nuclear, hydroelectric and natural gas-fired power plants and a single wind facility. The Power Workers Union has more than 16,000 members working in Ontario's energy sector.