KITIMAT, BC – Rio Tinto’s CEO, Jacynthe Cote, was mistaken when she announced the Kitimat Modernization Project (KMP) was behind schedule and over budget due to a shortage of skilled workers.
16 building trades unions have had a project labour agreement with Bechtel (the project manager for KMP) since 2008. The agreement set out market terms and conditions as well as labour supply expectations. 92% of workers on the project are Canadian and only 8% have been accessed from the United States or other countries to fill in where Canadians were not available at the time.
“Labour shortage has become a catch-all term for any possible hiccup on a project,” said Jim Paquette, Secretary Treasurer of the BC Building Trades and Business Manager for Sheet Metal Local 280. “In this case, there is simply no labour shortage. Every trade can supply. Tell us the number of tradespeople you need Ms. Cote and we’ll send them to you.”
“I don’t know where Ms. Cote is getting her information – our unions have met all labour requirements,” said Lee Loftus, President of the BC Building Trades and Business Manager for Insulators Local 118. “All costs and workforce predictions were built into the project labour agreement – if they’re behind schedule or over budget, it’s because they made an error in their own calculations.”
Rob Tuzzi, President for Bricklayers Local 2 has taken extra steps to exceed the workforce expectations. “We have always fulfilled our labour obligations.” said Tuzzi. “When supply began to tighten, we backfilled with 16 Bricklayers from the United States and conducted three training deliveries for 42 local residents and First Nations, of those 60% of participants are on the job right now and I have 70 guys on a list waiting to go up there”.