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Electrolux closes Montreal area plant, leaving thousands unemployed
After years of waiting, more than a thousand Electrolux employees are out of a job after the company wound down operations Wednesday.
Four years ago, the Swedish appliance company warned it would close the plant and move to Tennessee.
Its last day of was supposed to be this Friday. Many workers held out hope there would be a reprieve, but Wednesday afternoon they were informed the company decided to close two days early.
“I don’t understand, we were profitable,” said Patrick Tourigny, an employee who passed by Thursday morning to see what was going on.
According to the union that represents Electrolux employees, the company received a series of financial incentives to move to Tennessee.
And while that's good for the company, it's a major hit for the region.
“We’re talking about an economic catastrophe,” said Dominic Durand, union spokesman.
The jobs paid $40-to-$50,000 a year on average, and replacing those kinds of jobs, especially 45 minutes from Montreal, may prove to be challenging. Durand said those losing their jobs will be lucky to find a job that pays minimum wage.
Olivier Goyet, director general of the region’s economic development agency, says the job losses represent $59 million in payroll lost and 33 per cent of the area’s manufacturing.
“The grocery store, the depanneur, the business owner… there will be an ulterior impact that will be felt,” he said.
Karl Moore, associate professor at McGill Faculty of Management, says businesses are under more pressure than ever to make the most money possible for shareholders.
“Part of the management mentality is to always put the screws down and say how can we reduce costs how can we increase revenues and increasingly looking at IT replacing people and trying to drive people out of the equation,” he said.
The region's economic development arm is now asking the government to help find ways to replace the jobs, a process that could take years.
In the meantime, former employee Tourigny has a family to support and will soon be without a paycheck.
He’s trying to figure out what his next move will be.
“I’ll roll up my sleeves and find something else. I don’t have a choice,” he said.