CANADA – Olymel, a Canadian meat packing food processing company, has planned to close its pork processing plant located on St-Jacques street in St-Hyacinthe as the management continues to weigh whether to sell the plant.

The meat processor said the plant will continue to operate until February 10, 2023, the definitive closure date.

This announcement follows a reorganizing of Olymel’s workforce in the fresh pork sector, as well as a reduction in the volume of products requiring packaging.

In addition, given the scale of the investments required to maintain the melting operations for lard production, Olymel’s management team has decided to end this activity.

The 107 employees still actively working in this facility’s operations have been notified about this decision and have received a 12-week notice of termination, under the provisions of Quebec’s Act respecting labor standards.

All employees affected by this closure will be allowed to be voluntarily relocated to one of four Olymel facilities.

The facilities include the St-Damase and St-Rosalie plants, both located within the municipality of St-Hyacinthe and specializing in fresh poultry and further-processed poultry products, respectively; the Unidindon plant, located in St-Jean-Baptiste-de-Rouville and specializing in turkey products; and the further-processing plant in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

The company through its reclassification committee noted that the employees who opt to take part in the relocation plan will have their years of service recognized for remuneration and benefits purposes wherever collective agreements contain provisions to that effect, in particular in the abovementioned four facilities.

Employees who also wish to work in one of Olymel’s other facilities in other regions of Quebec may also use the relocation plan to do so and may obtain conditions equivalent to those from which they currently benefit.

Following the closure and employee transfer, the products previously stored at the St-Jacques street plant will be transferred to other internal or external distribution centers.

Additionally, the raw materials used to make lard will be also be sold to an external company.

Yanick Gervais, president, and CEO of Olymel said: “This decision ties in with the restructuring of the fresh pork sector and stems from a months-long analysis that concluded today. “

Closing the St-Hyacinthe plant is part of the difficult, albeit necessary and responsible measures to ensure that the fresh pork sector gets back on the road to profitability after two years of difficulties caused by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the labor shortage, market uncertainties and various other factors underlying the unfavorable economic situation.”

I would like to salute and thank the 107 employees affected by this decision. I assure them that everything will be done so they can be relocated and continue working for the company under the best possible conditions.”

Olymel also laid off 57 managers and eliminated another 120 administrative positions last month, due to “the market context and growth challenges the company is facing.”

The processor, which is 84% owned by Sollio Cooperative Group, posted a US$60.2 million loss before patronage refunds and income taxes in 2021, compared with earnings of US$215.4 million in 2020.

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