Nova Scotia Utility Threatens Outsourcing

November 12, 2013

Nova Scotia Power’s announcement that it was considering outsourcing at least 250 utility jobs is being criticized by workers and consumer activists as a threat to good jobs and reliable service.

“It seems mighty mean-spirited for NSP to contemplate contracting out the work of people who do dangerous work in the wind, rain, snow and sleet to keep us all powered up,”wroteChronicle-Herald columnist Claire Mcilveen.

The positions would be filled by out-of-province contractors, which would likely raise costs and delay response time, said Halifax Local 1928 Business Manager Jeff Richardson. “When the power goes out at three o’clock in the morning, who’s going to restore the power?” Richardsontold a rallyprotesting the cuts. “A contractor who comes from out of the province?”

Local 1928, which represents Nova Scotia Power employees, is asking Premier-designate Stephen McNeil to investigate whether or not the layoffs would negatively affect the utility’s reliability.

The utility has already laid off more than 20 workers.

Richards said that outsourcing on that magnitude amounts to a direct attack on the union.

“If successful in contracting out all of this work, it would reduce the union membership at Nova Scotia Power to a token amount,” says a statement on Local 1928’sWeb site.

The utility is justifying the potential cuts by pleading poverty, saying profits are down.

But last year it was revealed that four executives with NSP and the utility’s parent company, Emera, earned more than $3 million in 2012, a 23-percent raise.

“If NSP must reduce its workforce or its payroll, it would be better advised to drop executive pay and spread the remaining grief throughout the company, rather than focusing on unionized workers,” wrote Mcilveen.

Clickhereto see video of the anti-outsourcing rally at NSP headquarters.