Saturday, January 10, 2009

Western Woes

Happy New Year! By now most family’s have gotten back to their pre-Christmas normal, but not us or others like us who depend on Alberta for our “normal.” Why? Because there may not be anything to go back to. My husband left his job out west in October to go back to school for eight weeks and before long word started filtering back to him that going back to work might not be as easy as many had thought.
On November 7th I made some notes indicating that conversations I was having with other Burin Peninsula folks indicated that layoffs in Alberta were happening at a rapid pace and there seemed to be something to it beyond the regular pre-holiday shut down.
Blair was supposed to go back to work on January 5th. He was supposed to start a new project at Albian Sands. Right now the date he has been given to start there is in April. It’s not that everything has shut down completely. Flint is hiring 1000 workers immediately but they are currently only looking for those in the pipefitting and welding trades. Those in the electrical and instrumentation trades will start later. Blair has been told that once he starts he will be “steady go” until late 2010 or early 2011 at the same project. For now, the flight program is still into affect according to some company rep’s I spoke with but some former western rotational workers told me they were advised that unless they were prepared to work “the long haul,” don’t bother heading up. Blair also experienced that as he was offered work on the 15th of this month if he was willing to take a full time job.
Our phone started ringing New Years Day. By the time we returned home on the 4th our voice mail was full; full of calls from men Blair has worked with in the past, calling not to wish us a Happy New Year, but to ask if he had any lines on work for 2009. They were all coming up empty and not having much luck so out came the cell phone contact list and the buddy calls began. Blair has made a few of those calls himself though I have to admit I don’t think he’s overly anxious to get back at it. Not right then anyway.
But we realize that things quite possibly could get much worse and despite the fact that it sucks living off EI, it also only lasts so long so finding a camp job will be Blair’s top priority this coming week.
Once you find something it has been our experience that the wheels work quickly and from the time you get the call to go and the time you leave it’s usually only a matter of days.
So, in optimistic preparation, Blair took our 11 year-old away for a boys only weekend. He has also spent a lot of time with our almost six month-old daughter. He picked up the parts he needed to ready the skidoo for Brody and he’s making plans to get his father down here so they can finish the bathroom work they started before the holidays.
This ritual seems all too familiar only this time I‘m wondering if the getting ready for gone will actually result in a leaving at all.

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