About 1,000 tradespeople working on the Husky Energy's Sunrise oilsands project woke up to find themselves out of work Wednesday morning.
“I got notice from some of my contacts on site they received notice under their door that Saipem and Husky’s contract had come to an end or had been terminated by Husky and that they were going to be demobilized as of today,” said Izzy Huygen, with CLAC (Christian Labour Association of Canada).
CLAC supplies tradespeople to Saipem Canada which was contracted to work on the Husky Sunrise Energy project 60 kilometres northeast of Fort McMurray. The project uses steam injection to recover below-surface bitumen.
The work began about 2½ years ago and was not expected to end until this summer, he said.
Huygen has no idea why the job ended so suddenly.
“I may find out or I might never know.”
In a news release, Husky Energy said construction at the site is largely complete, with the plant starting production Wednesday. It said Saipem’s work was done.
Recently, Calgary-based Husky said it was seeking $400 million to $600 million in cost savings from its suppliers and contractors in the face of low oil prices.
Scaffolder Darcy Longman, who had been working on the site since June, found a letter slipped under his door early Wednesday.
“We were given notices under our door at 3:30 a.m. that Saipem has been kicked off the Husky Sunrise site effective immediately as far as I know,” he said. “Everybody knew everything was going good. We were good until April.”
He's not only angry about losing his job, but said he wasn't allowed back on the job site to retrieve his personal tools and boots before having to board a bus.
Workers were shuttled off the work site to an airstrip before being flown to either Calgary or Edmonton, he said.
Once home, the workers will be looking for work in a much quieter industry, Huygen said.
“We can hopefully hook them up with other jobs that are out there,” he said. “Of course with the oil price where it's at, that’s a challenge anyway."
Saipem Canada has not returned phone calls.