September 17, 2009 / 6:12 PM / 9 years ago

Cameco cuts 79 jobs at fuel manufacturing plant

* Company says two-week strike forces layoffs

* Facility manufactures fuel bundles, other components

* Stock retreats 1.1 percent

TORONTO, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Canadian uranium producer Cameco (CCO.TO) has laid off 79 non-union employees at its two nuclear fuel manufacturing plants in Ontario due to a two-week-old strike at the facilities, a company official said on Thursday.

Fuel manufacturing at Cameco’s Port Hope, Ontario, facility has been completely halted, while the company’s nearby Cobourg operation is running on a partial basis, Cameco spokesman Lyle Krahn said.

A total of 137 unionized workers walked off the job two weeks ago after failing to come to a contract agreement with the company. Key issues are wages and benefits, including retirement benefits.

“The current labor dispute has really led to a shortage of work, and so we’re put in the unfortunate position of having to lay these people off,” Krahn said.

“We hope to be able to recall everyone once this is over, but we’ll have to see how things go in the future.”

He said no talks have been scheduled with the union.

Cameco’s fuel manufacturing business in Port Hope and Cobourg is separate from Cameco’s uranium conversion facility, which is also in Port Hope. The fuel manufacturing business does not generate a significant chunk of Cameco’s revenues, the company said.

Total revenues for the company last year were C$2.9 billion.

Krahn said Cameco’s fuel customers typically keep inventories of fuel bundles.

“We have indications that they have many months of supply to carry them over,” he said.

Cameco’s shares were down 37 Canadian cents, or 1.1 percent, at C$31.97 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday afternoon.

$1=$1.07 Canadian Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Peter Galloway

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