Labour and Supply Chain Relations

We rely on a large contingent of skilled tradespeople who are hired through our contractors and suppliers to contribute to sustainable maintenance turnarounds and the construction of new projects.

Our Performance

Labour and Supply Chain Relations Graphic 1

Canadians comprise 100% of workforce

for maintenance and construction projects.

85% of contractor workers

sourced through Building Trades of Alberta.

Labour and Supply Chain Relations Graphic 2
Labour and Supply Chain Relations Graphic 3

Over $300,000 invested

in programs to support skilled trades training.

Our Approach

Syncrude relies on a large contingent of skilled tradespeople who are hired through our contractors to contribute to sustainable maintenance turnarounds and the construction of new projects. Our commitment is to first employ Albertans and Canadians for contract labour. If unions are unable to source Canadian workers, they will seek tradespeople in the United States and then other countries, if needed.

To manage skilled labour requirements, Syncrude continues to work with partners on initiatives that will develop more skilled workers in Canada. We also continue to make strategic investments that encourage youth to choose trades as a career.

Labour Forecast

Overall, labour supply in Alberta is expected to be in balance with demand between 2016 and 2025. However, there will be a large requirement for new entrants into the skilled trades workforce to offset the anticipated high level of retirements, and specific skill shortages are still possible.

Employment will be increasingly sustained by the rising need for workers on sustaining capital and maintenance projects versus new construction projects. Meeting peak labour demand periods for shutdowns, turnarounds and outages will become a growing challenge. Workers seeking employment in other provinces, such as potential resource projects in BC and Manitoba, will also tighten markets for skilled workers in Alberta.

Hiring and Workplace Commitments

Syncrude sourced about 85 per cent of contract workers through the Building Trades of Alberta, which represents 16 trade unions and 75,000 union members, and which has the ability to draw from union halls across Canada. In the event that workers cannot be found in Canada, the Building Trades then sources from the United States and overseas where skills and certifications are comparable to those in our country. Syncrude continues to be successful in providing jobs for Canadian maintenance and construction workers; in 2016, Canadian workers comprised 100 per cent of our contractor workforce.

Skilled tradespeople sourced from outside of Canada and who work at Syncrude are protected by all Canadian labour regulations, as well as the respective collective agreements Syncrude contractor companies have with various unions. They are treated and compensated the same as any domestic worker, and the federal government provides assurance of this through unannounced visits to the workplace. Sponsoring unions and the Alberta government (through Alberta Advanced Education’s Apprenticeship and Industry Training system) also conduct their own independent audits and verifications.

We provide opportunities for skilled apprentices primarily through the various contractor companies that are employed on the Syncrude site. Syncrude’s contractual expectation is that apprentices will comprise between 25 to 30 per cent of all the skilled workers on any given project; these are to be equally distributed between the first and final years of the applicable trade apprenticeship. Apprentice ratios are measured quarterly by Syncrude and expectations were met in 2016.

Sources of Skilled Trades Maintenance & Construction Workers for Syncrude (2016)

Supply Chain Management

Syncrude recognizes our on-site suppliers and contractors can impact our operations and reputation, and we expect them to meet standards comparable to ours for occupational health and safety, human rights, working conditions, business ethics, environmental protection, regulatory compliance and sub-contracting. This includes at a minimum, compliance with all applicable acts, laws and regulations. Our contract clauses cover numerous environmental, social and governance factors which are monitored through periodic audits and inspections. Management responsibility for this lies with Syncrude’s Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer (and Vice-President of Business Services) and the Manager of Procurement.

Contractor Workforce Safety

Syncrude is committed to providing a safe workplace for both employees and our contractor workforce. All skilled tradespeople and labour providers must abide by Syncrude’s safety and health policies. Our total 2016 onsite workforce comprised approximately 10,300 employees and contractors, with 21.2 million workforce hours. During this period, there were 34 contractor recordable injuries with a total recordable incident rate (TRIR) of 0.58. Further discussion on worker safety can be found in the Safety and Health chapter.

Contractor Safety

Investing in Trades and Technology Training

Syncrude donated $100,000 to Skills Canada in 2016 to promote trades and technology careers. This partnership enables visits to schools and post-secondary institutions to share information on the benefits of such careers, and supports skills competitions at the regional, provincial, national and international levels. During the year, around 18,500 Alberta students participated in Skills Canada programs.

Syncrude provided an additional $15,000 to sponsor the Heavy Equipment Service Try-A-Trade demonstration at the Provincial Skills Competition, attended by over 11,400 students. Through this, Syncrude connected with the students and shared information on skilled trades careers at our company.

Syncrude provided $100,000 to CAREERS: The Next Generation to support its ongoing outreach efforts and training and apprenticeship programs.

The NorQuest College Aboriginal Construction Career Centre received $25,000 as part of our four-year commitment totaling $100,000 to support the skills training needs of Aboriginal entrants to the workforce.

Two Fort McMurray high schools received a total of $75,000 for science and technology training and a robotics program.

Labour Market Engagement

Syncrude’s Labour Relations Executive Steering Committee, which is composed of senior Syncrude leaders, assesses our labour workforce needs and develops strategies to meet them. The committee also oversees Syncrude’s engagement with several external stakeholder organizations that work to influence labour market outcomes through a multi-pronged approach encompassing apprentice recruitment, training and supply; journeyman recruitment, training and supply; and immigration.

Working committees from the various groups focus on these issues and, where there is opportunity, federal and provincial agencies are also engaged in sustainment work.

Among those organizations through which we engage are: