Countdown to Strike Deadline Begins During Critical Refurbishments at Darlington Generating Station

Will a return to SNC-Lavalin’s fractious labour past disrupt Ontario’s electricity system?

Mississauga, Ontario, CANADA

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, May 18, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Amid critical work refurbishing two of the four reactors at Darlington Generating Station, members of the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA) face a rapidly approaching strike/lockout deadline on midnight of May 29, 2022.

“It is a critical year for Ontario’s electricity system, and SPEA members want to remain laser-focused on the work we need to do to deliver stable, affordable and low-carbon electricity for the province,” said Reza Ziaei, Specialist Resident Engineer, and Vice President of SPEA. “It is incredibly frustrating that after six months of bargaining and government-mediated conciliation efforts, SNC-Lavalin’s Candu Energy representatives have stalled, not even tabling key monetary proposals.” 

Contracts expired at the end of 2021.

The work of SPEA, representing scientific, technical, engineering, and professional workers at SNC-Lavalin’s Candu Energy, is integral to the refurbishment and servicing of Ontario’s nuclear energy fleet – primarily responsible for the steep decarbonization of Ontario’s energy supply.   Two of the four reactors at Darlington Generating Station have been powered down for multi-year refurbishment, responsible for nearly 13 percent of the Province’s total generating capacity. 

“Candu Energy requires highly specialized scientific and engineering staff.  We need to make sure we can keep and attract the top-tier talent we need to deliver critical refurbishment and maintenance work for Ontario’s nuclear fleet,” said Ziaei. “We are determined to do whatever it takes to reach fair, competitive agreements, and swiftly.  But we need Candu Energy to bring the same focus to the bargaining table.” 

Ontario will need to deploy more expensive, higher-emitting natural gas-fired power to meet gaps in electricity demand while refurbishments are underway; the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) reports the weighted monthly average hourly electricity price (HOEP) jumped from $8.93 in April 2021 to $29.03 in April 2022.  

The IESO projects a steady increase in energy demand as the province electrifies, with demand from transportation alone projected to grow 20 percent annually.  Uncertainties about the availability and the carbon intensity of Ontario’s future energy supply may threaten significant, job-creating investments.

SPEA members are concerned that new management at Candu Energy threatens a return to a fractious bargaining relationship of the past, marked by a 12+ week strike shortly after SNC-Lavalin took over AECL’s nuclear reactor business in 2011.  “After 2012, SNC-Lavalin took great pains to set out on a new direction, renewing its board and its senior executives – including a collaborative approach to labour relations,” said Ziaei. “We cannot afford a return to the mistakes of the past – nor can the businesses and residents in Ontario who depend on our work.”

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