TRADES NL SHOCKED AS WEST WHITE ROSE WORKERS NOTIFIED OF LAYOFF – ONE DAY AFTER GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES $41.5M FOR PROJECT
Concrete Gravity Structure at West White Rose Project Site – Argentia Industrial Park, Placentia
December 7, 2020 – One day after both the Federal and Provincial Governments announce an investment of $41.5M for Husky Energy’s West White Rose Project (WWRP) from the Oil and Gas Industry Recovery Assistance Fund, Trades NL was shocked to be notified of layoffs for 15 skilled trade workers and 60 project management staff related to the Argentia site. Effective January 1, 2020 there will be a total of 10 skilled trade workers employed at the Argentia site.
It is difficult to understand how layoffs would occur a day after a combined investment of $83 million was announced for this project, and Trades NL are calling on Husky Energy to explain the scope of work and where the jobs are being created. Husky Energy has an obligation to detail for the public exactly how it intends to invest this public money, and we are calling on them to publicly disclose details of how this money will be spent.
On behalf of our members, we have written Husky Energy, with a copy to the Premier and Ministers, requesting clarification on how they intend to spend the public funds (copy of letter attached). We are seeking detail on the nature of the 331 positions announced, whether they are existing Husky Energy employees or workers associated directly with the WWRP project in Newfoundland and Labrador. Understandably, with the magnitude of this announcement, we were hopeful of more work at Argentia to get some of our trade workers back on site. It’s hard to believe more could not have been done to support displaced trade workers, within the $83M budget.
On the day of the announcement of $320M for the Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore on September 25th by Federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan, he was very clear that the funds were for jobs and the future of the industry, not to subsidize oil and gas companies. However, information we have suggests many of the 331 jobs included in this announcement are actually current positions within Husky Energy or with the project, not jobs for those previously affected by the downturn. Essentially, it appears a large portion of this may be subsidizing the company or subcontractor operations, and will not get laid-off workers back on their tools.
Trades NL is, however, supportive of government’s decision to invest $41.5 into the WWRP project, acknowledging that it does support many individuals on the project management side (engineering, procurement) as well as workers at Marystown. With this work proceeding, it is a sign of hope that we may see a full resumption of the project in 2022. We recognize the industry is in a very challenging time, and want to support, in any way we can, the resumption of a vibrant oil industry for our province.
However, our members working at Argentia have been out of work since the onset of Covid-19 in March, nearly 9 months ago, and now face a possibility of no new work until 2022. Skilled Trade workers will not sit around for two years without a job – so this announcement is very disappointing for our membership, and will have a detrimental impact on our retention of trades workers in the province. Trades NL members expected that any funding made available from the Oil and Gas Industry Recovery Assistance Fund to developers would have put displaced workers back to work and a commitment that full construction would continue.
Trades NL will continue advocating to the WWRP developers – SNC-Lavalin, Dragados and Pennecon (SDP) to determine if some scopes of work can proceed which can put tradespeople people back to work in 2021. Furthermore, will continue to be engaged with industry stakeholders and government advocating for the maximum number of construction jobs be created from our resources and any public investments.
Trades NL is an umbrella labour organization which promotes and coordinates the interests of 16 building and construction trades unions, representing more than 18,000 skilled trades workers in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. For 70 years, our craft continues to construct, fabricate and maintain some of the world’s most complex facilities.
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