Nfld. & Labrador

200 workers sent home from Muskrat Falls; contractor asks for workforce 'reshaping'

Subcontractor Pennecon Limited says it is not a layoff, but 200 workers have been sent home from the Muskrat Falls project in Labrador.

Pennecon calls it a demobilization, not layoffs

A picture of construction at an AC transformer in the Muskrat Falls switchyard area in May 2016. (Courtesy Nalcor Energy)

Work has been stopped on a section of the Muskrat Falls project in Labrador, as contractors have entered a discussion about "reshaping" of the workforce.

Pennecon has sent about 200 of its employees home from work on a electric converter station, after GE Grid asked the company to make changes to the scope of work.

In a statement, Nalcor Energy said "this is a planned reshaping of Pennecon's workforce," that GE Grid, its primary contractor, asked for.

"This is to ensure the workforce is the right size and that their work is executed in a prioritized and productive way to achieve best value," spokesperson Karen O'Neill wrote.

The converter buildings at the Muskrat Falls project site in May 2016. (Courtesy Nalcor Energy)

However, Pennecon spokeswoman Sarah Constantine denied that any layoffs have been made. She said the company has to meet with GE Grid, their client, about new priorities and a new scope of work.

"We would certainly not say at this stage that there are any layoffs imminent," she told CBC News. "Pennecon is temporarily demobilizing a crew."

"We've just had a couple of changes to the scope of work, so we need a couple of days to sit down with the client and clarify what that means for our scope of work and our priorities when it comes to execution."

No date has been set for work to resume, but Constantine said Pennecon was anticipating the talks to only take a few days.

GE Canada did not immediately return a request for comment.

Constantine said that under the terms of the workers' contract, employees are paid hourly, and therefor they are not being paid while they are demobilized.

Workers were sent home Friday afternoon. Constantine said they learned about the situation Thursday or Friday.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Garrett Barry

Journalist

Garrett Barry is a CBC reporter based in Gander, N.L.

With files from Katie Breen

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