On 31 May workers at Hydro-Québec in Canada cranked up strike action at seven power plants that export power to the US, putting more pressure on the utility to return to the bargaining table.

The resumption of bargaining in mid June, after six weeks of tough talks, indicates that the union tactic had some effect.

The union was asking for a 7% wage increase in 1999 and 9% next year, while the provincially owned utility is offering 1% this year and 2% in 2000. The 31 May action affected more than a third of Hydro-Québec’s capacity at LG2-Robert Bourassa, Bersimis 1 and 2, Manic 2, and 3 and Outardes 3, and 4, which produce a combined 10,648MW. Hydro-Québec exports about 5350MW at peak levels to various areas in the eastern US, including Boston and New York City.

The action included refusing to work overtime and working to rule.