Piling Canada

Major gains in workplace equity for professional and administrative staff at Candu Energy

Female majority group wins major victory in fight for fairness and equity
Written by Piling Canada
March 2024

A female majority group of Candu Energy workers, represented by the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA), has won a major victory in their fight for fairness and equity at Candu Energy, a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin (now AtkinsRéalis).

After joining SPEA and a multi-year struggle to bargain a fair and equitable collective agreement, an arbitrator has awarded a first contract to the Operations and Administration (OA) employees at Candu Energy.

“We are proud to report that the collective agreement includes the same protection for compensation and guaranteed working conditions that all other SPEA represented members have at Candu Energy,” said Michelle Duncan, staff representative at SPEA.

The OA employees, which includes accountants, cost controllers, planners and administrative employees who work alongside their counterparts, including engineers, technicians and technologists represented by SPEA, whose compensation and working conditions have been protected in collective agreements for decades.

The OA workers’ attempt to secure the same guaranteed entitlements to dental, health and leave benefits as male-dominated units was referenced in a 2022 shareholder proposal calling upon the company to strengthen its equity-related reporting.

In a resounding victory, the OA workers have been awarded most of the terms and conditions they sought at the bargaining table, conditions the employer refused to agree to for years.

The new collective agreement expires along with all other collective agreements at Candu Energy in 2026. AtkinsRéalis, has with few exceptions adopted a fractious approach to labour relations since it first purchased Candu Energy from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. Two out of the last three rounds of bargaining to date resulted in multi-week strike actions.

The relationship deteriorated further when SNC-Lavalin moved to fire the president of the union in early 2023, on what the union describes as malicious and unfounded allegations.

“We are confident that we will win the president’s job back, but SNC-Lavalin’s war on the union is ongoing. We are preparing for the strong likelihood of a strike in the next round of bargaining,” said Duncan. Piling Canada

Category: Industry News

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