Unionized workers disrupt work at tar ponds site

Work at the Sydney tar ponds project was disrupted Monday by unionized employees in disagreement with non-unionized employment taking place on the cleanup site.

Cape Breton Post
Mon., Dec. 20, 2010

Sydney Tar Ponds Agency project director Donnie Burke said the unauthorized dispute involved members of the International Union of Operating Engineers local in Sydney.

“I don’t know how you’d term it, more of a wildcat walkout with some unionized employees with the operating engineers union, (who) walk(ed) off two of our contracts in protest of one of our other contracts,” said Burke. Approximately a “dozen or so” workers of two companies stopped their duties Monday afternoon, said Burke.

At contention is work being carried out to create a protective cap to cover treated toxins at the ponds.

The $19.1-million contract was awarded to Hazco Environmental Services, which has been on site since October and is employing local labour to carry out the project. “It’s a union/non-union issue. Hazco is a non-union company, and of course Nordlys and McNally are both unionized companies,” said Burke. Burke said Nordlys and McNally are handling the agency’s pump around contract and a contract for solidification/stabilization.

Calls to the International Union of Operating Engineers office in Sydney were not returned as of press time Monday.

By late Monday evening, Hazco project manager Kevin MacInnis said his company was still trying to figure out the exact source of the complaint. “We’re just trying to get everything sorted out here. It’s a little bit confusing here right now,” he said. “There was some blockades here and whatnot and we’re just trying to work through the issues and get things resolved.”