Monday, May 15, 2006

Alberta tradespeople idle as northern project imports workers

Plying their trades - By NEIL WAUGH, EDMONTON SUN
Since Syncrude's massive EU-1 project is all but wrapped up, my phone has been ringing with (bleeped)-off Alberta tradesmen wondering why a reported 200 foreign temporary workers are on the OPTI/Nexen Long Lake project south of Fort McMurray - including an apparent recent airlift of electrical workers and welders.
But it's also clear that the house of labour is deeply divided. The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union - like the Ironworkers before them - broke ranks with the Alberta Building Trades, and signed on with the controversial Horizon project to give workers 'another legitimate choice' on the big job. It's believed they are going to concentrate on the key trades of pipefitters, operating engineers and carpenters.

Now there are reports that the carpenters are about to bolt from the fractured AFL - which bills itself as 'Alberta's largest labour organization' - after a heated council meeting last Friday.

'They're cutting off their nose to spite their face,' McGowan said about the angry nail benders.

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