Employer gives 1-day notice for full return to workplace

Union threatens legal action, says Candu Energy 'using employees as a bargaining chip'

Employer gives 1-day notice for full return to workplace

One day's notice.

That’s how much time Candu Energy gave employees before they were required to head back to the workplace full time, claims the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA). SPEA represents engineers, scientists and technical and administrative staff at the Ontario-based company.

The move comes in the midst of a labour dispute between the company and the workers represented by SPEA, who began a strike at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station on May 29.

“The company is using employees as a bargaining chip,” says Denise Coombs, staff representative at SPEA. “It’s shameful.”

Four employees of the company confirmed they received the notice through an internal memo last Thursday afternoon, according to a CBC report. They say they were previously told that likely wouldn't happen until September, and even then, it would be under a hybrid model.

“This is clearly bad faith bargaining,” says Coombs. “The company presented us offer to resolve the labour dispute on June 2. The message was clear: ‘Accept this offer or we impose a mandatory, full-time return to the office with one business day’s notice.’”

However, Candu claims that it always intended to bring all employees back to the workplace “at the appropriate time,” according to a report from Financial Post, citing an emailed statement from the company.

“The company has been clear with employees about that intent and has been encouraging employees to return to the workplace for several months,” it says.

Legal action

But SPEA intends to take legal action against the employer this week.

“It’s time Candu leadership abided by the principles of SNC Lavalin’s code of conduct,” says Coombs. "The code requires all employees and management to embrace a culture of integrity, ethics, and respect. The company’s actions are a clear repudiation of these values.”

The June 2 announcement has become a source of stress for workers, she says.

“Some employees are scrambling to make child-care arrangements. Others have medical issues and are afraid of COVID exposure upon returning to packed office spaces. Stress levels are through the roof.”

Many workers are warming up to the idea of returning to the worksite, according to a survey.

However, nearly one-third (32 per cent) of Canadians say that they would look for another job if their employer forced them to work exclusively from the office, according to a report from Ipsos.

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