MANITOBA — The Manitoba Heavy Construction Association (MHCA) recently wrote a letter to the finance minister requesting discussions on how the provision of utility locate services should be deemed essential, ensuring it would continue undisrupted in the event of labour action or other extraordinary conditions.
The letter was written in collaboration with other construction associations and sent to Finance Minister Cliff Cullen, who is also responsible for Manitoba Hydro. A letter was also sent to Jay Grewal, president and CEO of Manitoba Hydro.
The letter explains the location of underground utilities is an essential service to the construction industry and the inability to proceed with work “puts contractors in legal/contractual jeopardy, displaces employment for those in and supporting construction and obstructs the provision of infrastructure services to the general public and property owners.”
Delay or disruption to locates poses a safety hazard for construction crews and the public and negatively impacts the economy, indicates a MHCA release.
The letter asks that the provision of locate services by all utility owners be deemed an essential service, resulting in the necessary contingencies to prevent disruption and resulting risk in the event of a strike or other occurrence.
The associations asked for a meeting with Cullen to discuss the issue. The construction industry also requested Grewal confirm the corporation’s contingency plans to ensure that the locate services and resources at Hydro would continue in the event of a strike.
A strike that could have started July 21 at Manitoba Hydro was averted when the IBEW Local 2034, which includes employees who provide locate services, and the Crown corporation reached a tentative collective agreement with the union.
“We are relieved that a potential strike has been averted, at least for the time being, and that Hydro is attentive to the critical need for locate services,” MHCA president and CEO Chris Lorenc said in a statement.
“We will pursue discussions at the provincial level to protect utility locates as an essential service, so avoiding any disruption is a primary concern of all utility owners.”