Olymel to cut over half of Que. poultry plant staff

Quebec meat packer Olymel plans to move work from one of its Quebec poultry plants to three others in Eastern Canada, leading to over 180 layoffs in mid-July.

The company on Monday announced an “extensive rationalization” at its processing and pre-packaging plant in the Iberville district of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, southeast of Montreal.

The reorganization will lead to layoffs starting July 16 for 183 of the plant’s 308 staff, who process and package skewers, tournedos, fresh traypack products and deboned chicken thighs.

The cuts have “unfortunately become necessary in order to combine the same type of activities in a market where we are facing lower demand for certain products,” Olymel CEO Rejean Nadeau said in a release.

The move is expected to create “significant gains in efficiency, better productivity and major cost savings, in particular on transportation costs.

“We hope to maintain as many jobs as possible in a very competitive poultry market, and we are doing our best to re-assign the laid-off employees.”

Pre-packaging of fresh poultry now handled at Iberville will be moved to Olymel’s slaughtering and cutting plant at Berthierville, Que., which already supplies raw materials to the Iberville facility and which will see all its jobs maintained as a result, the company said.

Chicken thigh deboning will no longer be handled at Iberville, as Olymel’s Brampton, Ont. plant “already specializes” in deboning and has enough capacity to meet demand in that category, the company said.

Also, chicken deboning now done at Berthierville will move to Olymel’s plant at Ste-Rosalie, about 65 km northeast of Iberville. Olymel said this move will allow it to recall 25 laid-off staff at Ste-Rosalie and shift production with no relocation of equipment necessary.

The remaining 125 employees at Iberville will process poultry for products including tournedos, skewers and souvlaki.

For the laid-off Iberville staff, Olymel said it will set up a “reassignment committee.” Olymel noted that when it hires at other plants, preference will go to its laid-off employees.

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