Truro carpet mill employees rally to demand severance offers
Hundreds of union members and supporters gathered Friday in Truro.
The workers of Tandus Centiva say they haven’t been offered severance packages ahead of the carpet mill's closure next month.
“This company would have us believe they are a great employer, great employers don't close plants and throw people out of work,” said Lana Payne, the Unifor Atlantic regional director for Tarkett. “Great employers sit down and negotiate.”
About 240 employees will lose their jobs and at least 70 of those employees have 30 or more years seniority at the plant. Many say they aren't sure what their next steps are.
“Alot of us are so close to retirement, only a couple of years left, and we don't know what we're going to do,” said Freda Smith, a 41-year employee. “Not too many people are going to hire us at our age, so really I don't know what we're going to do.”
The union says they have made repeated requests to meet with management to discuss a closure agreement, but say their requests have been ignored.
They are now calling on all levels of government to help them fight for the severance they say they deserve.
“The Nova Scotia government definitely should be helping these people, and pushing this company that isn't going bankrupt,” said Melissa Martell, president of Unifor Local 4612.
Bill Casey, the MP for Cumberland-Colchester, says he’s dismayed.
“I just find it hard to believe that a company that has been part of the community for so long and has had excellent employees for decades are saying no severance,” Casey said. “I’m hopeful that we can help convince them to come back to the table.”
The mayor of Truro says the loss of jobs is devastating for the area, but says he is has been talking to another company that has expressed interest in buying the facility.
“The company we're talking to asked me if we put 540 jobs here, ‘do you think the workers would step up to the plate,’ and I said ‘just ask them, I'm sure they will,’” said Truro Mayor Bill Mills. “So, I'm going to hold on to that positive for now.”
The union hopes that Friday's rally will put pressure on the company's management to come back to the negotiating table.
“Do what you said you were going to do, and that's doing right by your employees,” Payne said.
The plant, which operates under the name Tandus Centiva, is owned by the France-based company Tarkett.
The mill was previously owned and operated by Crossley Carpets and has been making carpets in Truro since 1964.
The plant closes on July 16 and is relocating operations to Dalton, Ga.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Allan April.