Potential service disruptions at Direct Energy
Potential service disruptions at Direct Energy add to company’s consumer relations problems
OTTAWA, March 19, 2012 /CNW/ – Ontario’s Direct Energy’s controversy over water heater rental contracts have been complicated by potential service disruptions resulting from contract negotiations with their workforce.
About 550 full-time and part-time members of Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Local 975, representing both clerical and operational employees, have given their bargaining committee an overwhelming strike mandate. The CEP members provide plumbing, water heater, heating, ventilation and air conditioning services to over 1,000,000 homeowners throughout Ontario, including water heater and furnace installations and maintenance.
The strike mandate was provided last week in response to company demands for concessions on wages, benefits, and scheduling. The company is also demanding changes in qualification standards for workers that will affect job placements and layoffs.
The company secured a “No Board Report” from the Ministry of Labour on March 13, which puts the company and union in a legal strike – lockout position at midnight on Thursday March 29.
Direct Energy last week had a public relations controversy on its hands over new contracts which would have charged consumers large buyout fees who cancelled their water heater rental contracts. Thousands of consumers overwhelmed the company’s phone lines.
Dates are being scheduled for the Parties to get back to the bargaining table with the assistance of a provincially appointed mediation officer.