Suncor Energy has announced that it will eliminate approximately 400 full time positions at mining sites in northern Alberta as they deploy a fleet of 150 autonomous trucks over the next few years.
Layoffs To Begin In 2019
Suncor’s Chief Operating Officer Mark Little says that as the autonomous trucks are deployed over the next six years, they will eliminate the need for about 500 jobs at their Base Camp and Fort Hills mines. The new fleet of autonomous trucks will create about 100 jobs, resulting in a total loss of about 400 jobs.
Suncor says that it has been preparing for the layoffs by hiring truck drivers on a temporary basis.
— Metro Calgary (@metrocalgary) January 31, 2018
The company is currently using nine autonomous trucks at their North Steepbank site.
Suncor says that they will try to retain their laid off employees in other roles: “The implementation of AHS will change roles and required skill sets for some employees at Suncor’s operations over time. The company will continue to work with the union on strategies to minimize workforce impacts. Current plans show that the earliest the company would see a decrease in heavy equipment operator positions at Base Plant operations is 2019.”
Suncor says that part of the reason for the switch to autonomous trucks is to increase safety by “reduc[ing] interaction between people and equipment, which decreases incident rates and injury potential – helping us ensure everyone goes home safely at the end of every day.”
The autonomous trucks will also reduce operating costs by running nearly 24 hours a day.
Suncor specializes in oil sands development and upgrading, offshore oil and gas production, petroleum refining, and product marketing. They employ nearly 13,000 workers.
Teamsters Speak Out Against Layoffs
Teamsters Canada has spoken out against the decision to lay off workers.
The fallout from automation in transportation is already being felt. Four hundred jobs lost to robots. The gov’t and employers who automate jobs should at least have the decency to financially compensate workers. #cdnecon #canlab https://t.co/r1ulDiihrX
— Teamsters Canada (@TeamstersCanada) February 1, 2018