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The union representatives of Hydro-Québec workers have denounced Pauline Marois’ decision to close Gentilly-2 as “hasty and premature.”

“The stoppage of plant activities will affect thousands of people in the region.  We are surprised that Pauline Marois decided to shut it down just one day after forming her cabinet,” said CUPE-Quebec president Lucie Levasseur at a press conference Friday morning.”Especially since during the electoral campaign, she promised to consult with the unions and all the economic players in the region before taking a decision.”

A matter of safety

CUPE believes that it is safer to keep the plant in operation than to close it. ”This is precisely the type of information that we have not had an opportunity to communicate to the new government. The safety of nuclear waste management and security around the plant is, and will remain, an issue that must be addressed seriously. The Gentilly-2 site will not just miraculously disappear tomorrow.  To keep a closer eye on the plant,it is far better to keep it running, ” said Michel Bibeault, Quebec director of CUPE and former Hydro-Québec employee.

“The refurbishment of the plant would guarantee the region an estimated investment of over two billion dollars.  Instead, they’re talking about replacing that investment with a $200 million fund for economic diversification in the Centre-du-Québec and the Mauricie. Will that counteract the loss of economic activity due to the closure of the plant? No, the communities will certainly be affected,” said Ginette Paul, vice-president of CUPE-Québec and a representative of the Energy sector.  ”We get the feeling that the Parti Québecois is turning its back on the region,” noted the union representative.

“We need to have a real debate on the closure of the plant.  Whether in the form of a parliamentary commission or a public hearing, the consultation must be done properly,” said Ginette Paul.

More than 800 people work at the nuclear plant.  Gentilly-2 is critical to the economic activity of the region.

“This will have a major impact on the economy of Bécancour, Nicolet and Trois-Rivières. The region will lose hundreds of skilled jobs.This economic engine will be shut down and Quebec will lose a key asset in the diversity of its energy production,” concluded Levasseur.

The Hydro-Québec unions affiliated with CUPE consist of four main locals: Syndicat des technologues d’Hydro-Québec (SCFP-957), Syndicat des employé-e-s de métiers d’Hydro-Québec (SCFP-1500), Syndicat des employé-e-s de techniques professionnelles et de bureau d’Hydro-Québec (SCFP-2000), and Syndicat des spécialistes et professionnels d’Hydro-Québec (SCFP-4250). Together, they account for almost 80% of the staff at the government corporation.