FortisBC locked out members of Local 213 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) last week, affecting 225 employees.
Those directly affected are electric employees working in generation, transmission, and distribution operations, including employees at Warfield's System Control Centre such as power line technicians, electricians, and power systems dispatchers.
The two sides have been bargaining since January with the existing collective agreement expiring in February. Talks continued until mid-March when, after negotiations and mediation provided no new agreement, the union filed strike notice.
At that point the company applied to the B.C. Labour Relations Board in April to have certain services designated as "essential services," and was granted the designation.
FortisBC then, under Section 78 of the B.C. Labour Relations Code, took its offer directly to the voting membership.
In mid-May the union began limited job action leading up to FortisBC's decision Wednesday to lockout their employees and activate the essential services order.
Although there is no schedule to return to the bargaining table both sides in the dispute maintain that they are open to further discussion.