Nuclear site researchers protest pension changes

Chalk River lab workers worried they’ll lose defined pensions with privatization.

OTTAWA — Nuclear power researchers and other employees at a laboratory in Eastern Ontario said they would picket the facility Sept. 9 over potential changes to their pensions.

Workers at the site in Chalk River, Ont., said they’re worried that their defined benefit pensions could disappear under a plan to privatize the lab’s operations.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada and the Chalk River Professional Employees Group say Natural Resources Canada wants to adopt a new government-owned, contractor-operated management model at Chalk River.

They said the move threatens the secure retirement funds that scientists, engineers and other employees have come to expect. And they warn such a move would endanger staff recruitment and retention at the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited facility.

The unions plan to hold an information picket this morning outside Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd’s facilities in Chalk River.

Employee group president Jonathan Fitzpatrick says they’re not opposed to the new management system.

“But the federal government needs to do it right,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement.
“Depriving current and future AECL scientists and engineers of a secure retirement is not the way to ensure Canada’s nuclear labs attract and retain the best and the brightest.”

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada represents about 750 engineers and scientists employed at Chalk River who do everything from ensuring the safe operation of Candu nuclear reactors to managing radioactive waste from across the country to operating nuclear reactors which produce isotopes used for medical diagnostic testing.

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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