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Nalcor working to ensure 129 former Astaldi workers will get paid – but no promises it’ll happen before Christmas

Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady speaks to reporters Tuesday outside the House of Assembly.
Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady speaks to reporters Tuesday outside the House of Assembly. - David Maher

As the clock ticks closer to Christmas, there’s no guarantee displaced Astaldi workers will see their money in time for the holidays.

While unionized workers have been taken care of after Astaldi was ordered off the Muskrat Falls worksite on Oct. 18, 129 non-unionized workers will have to wait and see when they’ll be paid wages and benefits for work that took place on the site after Oct. 20.

Some employees stayed later than Oct. 18 to help the company clew up and get workers off the site. Now, those people are waiting to be paid.

Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady couldn’t promise money by Christmas, but she gave assurances the government is working with Nalcor Energy to try to fix the situation as quickly as possible.

“Nalcor has been working. This is an on-the-hour, active issue,” she said.

Nalcor is working with Astaldi’s payroll company, Automatic Data Processing Ltd. (ADP), to get the workers’ information to allow Nalcor to pay wages and benefits owed to the workers.

Nalcor will get its money back from the paid wages through some $400-million in sureties and securities filed with Astaldi.

On top of the delayed payments, records of employment have also been delayed, meaning some workers are unable to apply for employment insurance benefits. Coady says the records of employment are with Astaldi, which makes things even more challenging.

As time passes, some workers are considering legal action against Astaldi and Nalcor to try to get the wages. Coady says she’s not going to try to dictate whether anyone launches their own legal challenges, but work is ongoing to get the money to the workers.

Nalcor pointed to Coady’s statements and did not provide additional commentary when contacted on Tuesday.

At the end of September, parent Astaldi SpA filed for creditor protection under the Italian Insolvency Act in Rome, but the application allowed work to continue on contracts around the world, including Astaldi Canada’s work at Muskrat Falls. Nalcor issued the stop-work order to about 500 Astaldi workers on Oct. 17.

Coady said Astaldi’s work on the $12.7-billion megaproject is 95 per cent complete, so impacts on cost and schedule are not anticipated.

A replacement contractor for Astaldi to complete the remaining work has not yet been named.

Twitter: DavidMaherNL

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