PORT HOPE – Although the cuts are not as deep as initially projected, 51 Cameco Corporation employees were given layoff notices this week, effective immediately.
Cameco spokesman Dough Prendergast said 43 hourly employees are now on temporary layoff and nine salaried employee positions have been permanently eliminated as of Dec. 10, after the UF6 plant was shut down because of supply issues. The elimination of the nine salaried positions is part of a Cameco-wide cost containment measure, which eliminated a total of 50 salaried positions from Cigar Lake, Cameco’s corporate office in Saskatoon, as well as local operations, said Mr. Prendergast.
Of the nine salaried employees affected, three have found other positions within Cameco’s Northumberland County operations, which includes the Port Hope lakefront conversion facility, the divisional headquarters on Peter Street in Port Hope, and Cameco Fuel Manufacturing (formally know as Zircatec).
There are not as many employees involved as originally projected in the company’s Nov. 28 announcement of the shutdown of the UF6 plant, which indicated the impending layoff could affect up to 100 employees. He explained it took a while to review staffing levels and take into consideration federal regulatory staffing requirements.
“It was quite a complex situation,” he explained.
To put the layoffs and eliminated salaried employee position reductions into context, on Monday, Dec. 8, Cameco had 824 employees; as of today, the company employs 772 people. As a point of reference, the company had 742 employees at the end of 2007, which, including today’s announcement, still shows a net gain of 30 jobs this year, he noted.
The staff reductions are fueled by a contract dispute between Cameco and its sole supplier of hydrofluoric acid (HF). At that time, the company said the dispute resulted in unreliable and expensive deliveries of the material necessary for the production of uranium hexafluoride (UF6). Given the uncertainty, Cameco decided to suspend UF6 production until the second half of 2009.
The dispute remains unresolved and Cameco has launched a lawsuit against its former HF former supplier alleging breach of contract, said Mr. Prendergast. However, the company continues its search for alternate HF suppliers.