Strike by Candu engineers on hold for now
Pedestrians walk past the offices of SNC Lavalin are seen Monday, March 26, 2012 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Monday, May 7, 2012 2:26PM EDT
MONTREAL - A strike by engineers of SNC-Lavalin subsidiary Candu Energy is on hold for now as the union talks with customers about the potential impact of a labour disruption on nuclear refurbishment activities.
The union won a mandate last week to launch a strike as early as Sunday, but has not served 72-hours notice as required by the Canada Labour Code.
Michelle Duncan, spokeswoman for the 870 members of the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates, said the union is "assessing the situation."
She said the union is talking to Candu clients about the potential loss of expertise at Candu as a result of a contract it says includes concessions. The union hopes the customers will then express their own concerns about the threats of a loss of expertise to Candu Energy and SNC-Lavalin.
Proposed changes include a shift to a defined contribution pension plan, wage increases below the industry average and reduced travel compensation when overseeing reactor work.
The union said a strike could accelerate the exodus of employees and threaten the timing of projects, including the refurbishment of Ontario's Darlington and the Port Lepreau, N.B., power plants.
Candu Energy said it has a contingency plan in place to carry on business and meet the contractual obligations of its customers in the event of a strike.
But the union said the hiring of recent graduates and use of SNC-Lavalin engineers can't replace engineers with nuclear expertise.
No talks are currently scheduled.
The union also hopes SNC shareholders will press the nuclear subsidiary to resolve the labour dispute which could undermine its growth plans months after it acquired the operations from the federal government.
On the Toronto Stock Exchange, SNC shared were down 16 cents at $36.57 in afternoon trading.