July 8, 2012 / 11:44 PM / in 5 years

SNC-Lavalin nuclear engineers may strike on Monday

(Reuters) - The union representing nuclear engineers at Canadian engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc said on Sunday the workers could go on strike Monday unless the sides settle a contract dispute.

If the workers go on strike, the union said it could delay several ongoing nuclear projects in Canada and elsewhere around the world.

The union already had 144 members on strike and another 700 could go walk off the job Monday morning unless the sides can agree on a contract, Michael Ivanco, a senior scientist and vice president of the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA), told Reuters.

Officials at the company were not immediately available for comment.

Ivanco said the workers have been without a contract since January 1, 2011 and the main sticking points were over compensation, pensions and seniority rights.

The engineers became employees of SNC-Lavalin in October 2011 when Canada’s federal government sold off the commercial business of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL), which designed the CANDU (CANada Deuterium Uranium) reactor, to a unit of SNC.

All of the reactors in Canada are CANDU reactors.

Ivanco said the union members were assisting with several projects, including the restart of Bruce Power’s Bruce 1 and 2 reactors in Ontario and NB Power’s Point Lepreau in New Brunswick province.

Bruce 1 and 2 are owned by units of TransCanada and others.

The return to service of Bruce 1 and 2 and Point Lepreau has already been delayed for about three years due to technical issues.

Ivanco also said the union members were working on the engineering for the refurbishment of Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington reactors in Ontario, Hydro-Quebec’s Gentilly 2 reactor in Quebec, the Embalse nuclear plant in Argentina and other projects in China and elsewhere.

In addition, Ivanco said union members were working on the engineering for the next generation CANDU reactor for the proposed new units at Darlington and other projects.

The government of Ontario has not yet decided to build new reactors at Darlington.

Reporting By Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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