‘Where do I go?’: More than 100 left without jobs as Sydney cheese plant shuts down
Published Wednesday, March 23, 2016 9:17PM ADT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 23, 2016 9:24PM ADT
SYDNEY, N.S. -- Workers at the Saputo plant in Sydney, N.S. say they’ve been blindsided by the company’s abrupt plans to close what was once a Scotsburn plant, leaving more than 100 employees without a job.
“I don’t know where I’m going in life,” said former employee Keith Grosset. “I spent 34 years of my life here. I was 17 years old when I started. Where do I go? It’s very emotional.”
Saputo announced it will be closing plants in Sydney, Ottawa and Quebec, saying it faces $23 million in costs related to the closures.
Employees say they’re receiving very little information.
“My first emotion was anger, to tell you the truth,” said Grosset. “Just the way they handled it. It was a surprise announcement.”
The closure is another blow to an area already crying for good paying jobs.
“We haven’t had an announcement here in a long, long time where we’ve created 85 to 100 jobs. We’ve seen announcements like this in the fisheries and the mines and the steel plant,” said CBRM Councillor Ray Paruch.
Michael Hilliard is a former employee and has family members who have been working at the plant for more than 30 years.
“When I worked here, it was a lot of family and a lot of friends,” said Hilliard. “It’s one of our last businesses that last started here that went fairly big.”
The Sydney plant was formerly owned by Scotsburn, which sold its dairy operations to Saputo in 2014.
Hilliard says the writing was on the wall when the owner sold to a much larger chain.
“That almost seems to be inevitable nowadays, but in this situation, we thought it might take a little longer.”
“We figured we were one of the most modern facilities in the Maritimes, and we would be creating jobs and more work would be coming with the Saputo model,” said Grosset. “That’s what we took from it.”
Grosset and his coworkers hope the company will provide more assistance and answers before the plant is scheduled to close for good in June.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore