BY THE NEWS GLASGOW NEWS
Some found out at work, others got a call at home. Still others who should have been sleeping from working backshift the night before were woken, to find out devastating news.
About 500 jobs are being cut at the Michelin plant in Granton, Pictou County. The first 200 will lose their jobs in June 2014 and the remaining 300 will lose theirs in June 2015.
Michelin North America (Canada) Inc. announced publicly at noon Monday it will significantly reduce tire manufacturing at its car and light truck tire plant over the next 18 months. The move is in response to a continuing shift in the North American car tire market to larger size tires and the limits of the existing plant.
“The market has changed dramatically since the plant was built in 1971, and the company is changing with market demands,” said Michelin North America President Grant Ferguson. “Market demand for small car tire dimensions, such as the 14-, 15-, and 16- inch tires produced at the Pictou County plant, is diminishing. Investment costs to upgrade the 43-year-old plant for larger car tire production are not cost-effective.”
By June 30, 2015, tire production at the plant will be significantly reduced, impacting about half of the current employees at the facility.
The manufacturing change will occur in two phases: by June 30, 2014, a tire manufacturing production line that produces small dimension car tires will permanently close, affecting approximately 200 employees. By June 30, 2015, the remaining tire production activity at the site will be reduced, impacting approximately a further 300 employees.
While many workers received a call from the company, David Gerrior said he ended up hearing the news from his wife who heard about it at work. He talked with a co-worker who told him what he knew.
"At least we have some time to pursue other opportunities before we are done," he said.
He said this is his third job loss as a result of workplace closure.
"We haven't starved to death yet so somebody upstairs is definitely looking out for me and my family," he said. "I predict much prayer in my future and many others in Pictou County."
Another employee, Anthony Feltmate, said he works in the unaffected Zed line but said he feels for those who are losing their jobs.
"I don't think anybody seen it coming," he said.
The alternatives of switching to other plants in Nova Scotia is good, but many would prefer not to move.
"This is home for a lot of people," he said.
Significant aspects of Michelin’s Canadian operations will continue at the Pictou County site. Some high-performance car tire production, tire membrane production and the existing rubber mixing operation will continue along with the company’s Canadian corporate offices.
“We have a long history of manufacturing here, and we care deeply about the well-being of our workforce and the community,” said Ferguson. “We will continue as a significant manufacturing employer in Pictou County with our remaining operations on site, and we will continue to invest in Nova Scotia.”
Pat Carty, director of communications for the company, said they will still be going ahead with the natural gas pipeline that’s been planned with Heritage Gas.
“The pipeline will provide energy to run our plant boilers for our remaining production on-site, such as our rubber mixing plant and our high performance tire shop. We moved to natural and compressed natural gas at our three sites to reduce our carbon emissions, save energy and reduce costs,” she said.
The reduction of tire manufacturing at Michelin Pictou County will not affect Michelin’s other two Canadian tire plants in Bridgewater and Waterville, Nova Scotia.
All impacted Michelin Pictou County hourly and salary employees will have an opportunity to relocate to the company’s tire production facilities located in Bridgewater and Waterville, N.S. Severance packages are available for all impacted employees.
“We will work closely with all Michelin Pictou County employees affected by this decision to assess their situation and to help determine their best option and their choice moving forward — whether they will be able to retire, transfer to another position or transfer to another Michelin location in Nova Scotia,” said Ferguson.
Recognizing the Michelin Pictou County plant is a significant part of the local economy, Michelin Canada is also launching Michelin Development, a community development program to assist in the creation of new jobs in the small business sector in the neighbouring communities of Colchester, Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough counties. Michelin Development provides low-interest business loans and small business expertise to eligible applicants. More information on this program will be released later this spring.
Tony Rose, academic chair at the NSCC campus in Stellarton, said they didn't have any specific programs targeted for positions at Michelin, but he believes there will be some graduates impacted who might have looked for job opportunities there.
As in the past when large employers have had to make job cuts he said the community college will likely work with the government to help come up with ways to help the displaced workers find other employment.