SPEA: Will SNC-Lavalin repeat the mistakes of the past?

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, May 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Workers represented by the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA) employed by Candu Energy, a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin, were stunned by a frontal attack on labour rights during this current round of negotiations. “We are seeing SNC-Lavalin aggressively cracking down on worker rights through the bargaining process”, said Denise Coombs, staff representative at SPEA.

Among the tactics being employed by SNC-Lavalin, are interfering with workers’ right to bargain collectively, and blocking workers’ rights to organize. “After nearly a decade of stable labour peace, we are seeing a return to aggressive tactics of the past, targeting fundamental union rights,” according to Coombs.

In the midst of the pandemic, and at the early stages of collective bargaining negotiations, the company unilaterally cut off members’ ability to email their legal bargaining representatives, blocking all communications involving members’ work addresses at a time when electronic communications are essential. Employees have been prohibited from sharing information with their union, under threat of termination.

“These tactics deprive our members and future members of proper representation and protection from their union,” said Coombs. “For example, during a surge in the pandemic, an employee forwarded to SPEA a management email directing staff to begin attending client sites in person. SPEA raised these concerns with management. In response, employees were told that sharing any internal directives with their union is prohibited – even those concerning health and safety in the midst of a pandemic.

At the bargaining table, SNC-Lavalin has asked the union to agree not to organize workers at other subsidiaries or at joint ventures. “SNC-Lavalin is challenging its employees’ fundamental rights established under the UN International Labour Organization’s Conventions. It also creates an incentive for the employer to move work to non-union members within joint ventures.”

Candu Energy’s engineers, scientists, and technical staff have been working under an expired collective agreement since January. A strike/lockout deadline has been set for May 29th.

SNC-Lavalin has a very low unionization rate (in 2020, only 4.5% of global staff were covered by a collective agreement) but SPEA represents around half of all their unionized employees globally.

About SPEA
The Society of Professional Engineers and Associates is an independent union representing engineers, scientists, technical and administrative staff, who work for Candu Energy Inc- Nuclear division of SNC-Lavalin (formerly Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) Candu division) in Mississauga, Ontario and abroad (excluding AECL Chalk River Laboratories). Formed in 1974, SPEA is one of the oldest professional unions in Canada.

For further information contact:
Michelle Duncan, Staff Representative
Phone: 416-427-3525
Email: [email protected]

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