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Associations, Labour

Engineers' union files complaint against SNC after being ordered back to office

The Canadian Press
Engineers' union files complaint against SNC after being ordered back to office

TORONTO —A union representing SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. engineers has filed a complaint with the national labour board alleging bad-faith bargaining after a subsidiary ordered workers back to the office full-time with one business days’ notice.

On June 2, Candu Energy Inc. mandated all employees to return to the workplace as of last Monday, a requirement the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates says amounts to a negotiating tactic amid a rotating strike launched May 29 at Ontario’s Darlington nuclear plant, which Candu is refurbishing.

In a copy of the memo obtained by The Canadian Press, SNC executive vice-president Bill Fox reminds workers that a hybrid work model proposed to start Sept. 12 is “on the table,” meaning that the abruptly announced “full-time in-office working policy could change when bargaining concludes.”

Union spokeswoman Denise Coombs says SNC-Lavalin’s sudden move to bring more than 700 engineers, scientists and technicians back to the office five days a week has sent them scrambling for housing and child care after more than two years of remote work, and has amounted to an unfair labour practice given the bargaining context.

In a letter addressed to the union and SNC, and obtained by The Canadian Press, the CEOs of Ontario Power Generation and Bruce Power warn they will have to consider “alternate arrangements” if the two parties cannot provide “certainty” in their services, adding that as customers they do not expect to be treated as “a negotiation point.”

SNC spokesman Harold Fortin says collaboration and training are among the benefits of in-office work and that “it is time to return to the physical workplace” as “people are becoming more accustomed to being together in indoor spaces.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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