Construction delays have hotel and restaurant workers waiting on jobs in the construction camp for Vale’s nickel-processing plant in Long Harbour.
Pat McCormick, business manager for Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union Local 779 in Bay Bulls, said there are 86 members of the union waiting on jobs that were supposed to start between March 14-21 — cooks, bakers, dishwashers, “whatever’s required to operate a camp,” he said.
About a quarter of them gave up other jobs to work at the camp, he said,
Bob Carter, Vale spokesman, said the project is going well, but acknowledged that the camp’s potable water system is behind schedule.
He said half of the camp’s 500 rooms are ready to go, with the rest expected to be ready for occupancy in two to three weeks.
“We’re currently commissioning and flushing the camp’s potable water system, and that should be operational in early April. At that time we will hand that over to the camp operator, and they will do their own flushing, cleaning, and getting the kitchen in particular ready for occupancy.”
Carter said occupancy will start once the camp has the required permits, which are largely dependent on the potable-water system.
“Right now, we basically think we’ll be using the camp towards the latter part of next month,” he said.
The sewage-treatment plant will be completed in early May, said Carter, who added that Vale has regulatory approval to dispose of camp sewage off-site until the camp’s sewage plant is ready.
McCormick estimated that about one-quarter of the 86 workers quit other jobs to start working in the Long Harbour construction camp.
“They had a problem with getting water to the camp,” he said, acknowledging that construction delays on major projects aren’t out of the norm. “It’s frustrating for everybody, but it’s the name of the game. What can you do?”