Wednesday, 01 February 2017 14:12

'We were speechless': fibreglass plant in Minto to close in March

 A fibreglass plant in Minto is set to close in mid-March, resulting in the loss of 40 direct jobs, its quality assurance inspector says.

Reggie Barton, who is also a village councillor, says the vice-president of Canadian operations from the company that owns the plant travelled to Minto Monday afternoon to break the news to employees.

"We were speechless," Barton said. "We had no idea it was coming."

The executive said RPS Composites had to close its Minto plant because of a downturn in the fibreglass market, said Barton.

"They said all their feelers for 2017 are showing nothing for the Minto shop and 2018 is showing the same."

The employees were shocked.

"We knew things were slow at the plant," Barton said. "I mean, we weren't doing any production at all. But in this industry, it was up and down. It was always feast or famine with us."

The plant has pulled through slow periods in the past and the staff were doing their part, he said. Already, they were working fewer hours as part of a work-share program "to try to get through."

Now, 32 unionized employees and eight other staff members will be without work as of March 10, three days before the plant closes.

Their severance pay started on Monday and is based on their respective years of service.

"Speaking as a village councillor, this is a tremendous hit to our economy, with spin-offs going to the local businesses like the parts stores, the hardware stores, the restaurants. It's going to be felt throughout the whole community," Barton said.

"It's a devastating loss for the Minto-Chipman-Grand Lake area."