SPEA: “Reckless” Move by SNC-Lavalin Violates the Law

Company responds to strike by forcing hundreds of remote workers back to the office during pandemic with a record one business day notice

Mississauga, Ontario, CANADA

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, June 06, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- SNC-Lavalin’s Candu Energy sets a new Covid-19 policy record among large corporate employers in Canada by demanding that hundreds of employees currently working from home return to the office full time – with one business day’s notice. 

The move comes in the midst of a labour dispute with engineers, scientists and technicians represented by the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA), who began striking work at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station on May 29. 

Picket lines at Candu Energy’s Speakman Drive site snarled traffic as throngs of employees attempted to return to an unprepared worksite this morning.

“The company is using employees as a bargaining chip,” says Denise Coombs, staff representative at SPEA. “It’s shameful. Some employees are scrambling to make child-care arrangements. Others have medical issues and are afraid of COVID exposure upon returning to packed office spaces. Stress levels are through the roof.”

Employees have also been told they will now need a doctor’s note to receive any sick pay, even for a single day. “What is someone with COVID symptoms to do? They can’t obtain a doctor’s note. They’re supposed to isolate at home. This reckless act may well lead to a COVID outbreak in the crowded workplace,” says Coombs.            

SPEA intends to take legal action against the employer this week. “This is clearly bad faith bargaining. The company presented us offer to resolve the labour dispute on June 2nd. The message was clear: Accept this offer or we impose a mandatory, full-time return to the office with one business days’ notice,” says Coombs. 

The company’s June 2nd announcement follows several years of increasingly fractured labour relations under the leadership of Candu Energy President William August Fox III, who joined SNC Lavalin’s Candu Energy division after a career working in right-to-work states like South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, in 2018.

“It’s time Candu leadership abided by the principles of SNC Lavalin’s Code of Conduct,” says Coombs. "The Code requires all employees and management to embrace a culture of integrity, ethics, and respect. “The Company’s actions are a clear repudiation of these values.”

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: michelle.duncan@spea.ca