Pipefitters, plumbers at centre of controversy
Hundreds of unionized pipefitters and plumbers heckled their leaders during a heated meeting in Edmonton yesterday because they don’t want to lose their right to strike.
The workers say they plan to oppose new individual contracts that are being requested on job sites by Syncrude and Shell Canada, which include a "no-strike and no-lockout provision."
The companies say the provisions are necessary to avoid any delays on construction projects.
During a town hall meeting at the Italian Cultural Centre yesterday, the majority of the over 1,000 workers in attendance say they plan to vote against the new contracts through mail-in ballots.
The workers are members of Local 488 of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters.
"As soon as you give away your right to strike, (the companies) have no compulsion to negotiate (a new contract)," said Antonino Petralia who has been a pipefitter for over 25 years.
"There are a whole bunch of kids getting into this trade and I can’t tell them to get into (the field) because of this."
During the meeting a large number of the workers were heckling the union officials over the proposed contracts and some were accusing union leaders of not doing enough to work out a better deal with the companies.
Larry Matychuk, a business manager with the union, says no-strike provisions have served some unions well in the past and many companies are already beginning to work out contracts for other unionized workers that includes no-strike clauses.
"I don’t like it, but we have to hold our noses high and sign it," told Matychuk during the meeting.