War at Wapasu

How Civeo has declared war against the people who provide you with the meals that get you through the long days Wapasu

For months, the hardworking employees at Wapasu have been working under the tensest and most threatening conditions. Their employer, Civeo, has made it clear that they don’t care about them and want to get rid of them despite the fact that Wapasu workers have done everything they can to make Civeo successful.

Between the pandemic hit and the downturn in oil experienced in 2014, Alberta’s oil sands workers have been hit hard. Jobs that once were prosperous and plentiful have disappeared. And while the industry has started to recover, with oil companies leading the way in profits in recent years, those successes don’t seem destined to make their way back to the working families who make them happen.

Our last round of bargaining with Civeo for their camp workers was contentious, to say the least. While we were able to get to an agreement, getting Civeo to make a decent offer required intensive mediation and even the threat of coordinated action to support camp workers from Alberta’s labour movement.

However, less than 18 months into the new contract, Civeo wrote to its Wapasu workers demanding massive rollbacks. Those rollbacks included:

  • Almost 20% in wage reductions
  • Clawbacks on promised benefits
  • Deep cuts to guaranteed hours
  • And a variety of cutbacks on basic support Wapasu workers need to do their jobs

For many workers, these rollbacks would make their jobs unsustainable. Not only is Civeo demanding their concessions at a time when the price of oil has rebounded and oil companies are once again making massive profits, they have also threatened to contract their employees’ work out if they don’t accept the cuts without question.

As an open and democratic union, we let our members tell us what they want to do in a situation like this. Not surprisingly, Wapasu workers overwhelmingly rejected Civeo’s demands.

Shortly after that rejection, Wapasu workers’ union filed an unfair labour practices complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board. The complaint alleges that Civeo interfered with Wapasu workers’ union and that their threat to contract work out constitutes an illegal lockout.

“Clearly, Civeo didn’t understand who they were tangling with,” said UFCW Local 401 President Thomas Hesse. “They’ve tried every trick in the book. But none of them have worked. Every time they try something new, Wapasu workers and their union have pushed back and beat Civeo. And we won’t stop until we achieve the justice your members deserve!”

Caught in the crosshairs of their despicable behaviour, Civeo has now resorted to delay tactics as they seek to avoid being held accountable and continue their efforts to screw Wapasu workers over. But Civeo’s time of reckoning is fast approaching. UFCW Local 401 has been successful in securing dates to move its unfair labour practices complaint forward.

Let Civeo know you won’t sit by while they try to ruin your food by firing the people who cook the meals that get you through your long days at camp!

Click here to send Civeo a message.