The union representing steel workers at EVRAZ in Regina have confirmed Thursday morning that over 500 employees at the facility’s tubular division received layoff notices on Wednesday.
On the union’s website a notice says the layoffs are effective December 17th.
President Mike Day said obviously it’s an unpredictable and devastating time.
“It is devastating, we were expecting a shorter list to come out as we were told from the company originally that this would happen one step at a time and would be eased into,” Day said. “Right now we are not sure how the company is playing this, they’ve told us they might cancel some layoffs but we don’t know how many,” said Day.
In October EVRAZ issued a displacement memo that blamed economic conditions as a reason for potential workforce reductions.
Day said while it’s probable COVID-19 also played a role in this, it’s also worth noting that the oil and gas industry, particularly pipelines, has been scrutinized over the last number of years.
“The oil and gas sector has been on a slow decline, there’s a lot of people that once they hear the word pipeline, to them it’s a dirty term. It’s not that oil is not coming out of the ground it’s for some reason people figure pipelines are not the safest way to transport it, so it is frustrating for us.”
Day says Wednesday’s notice included around 551 employees, with the total now at about 591, by far the largest set of layoffs he’s seen in his 16 years in the industry.
He added that the tubular division is a large part of the facility that recently saw a large investment in Regina.
“That encompasses our two inch mil, our 24 inch mil and our large diameter mills, which is mills one, two three, four and five. It’s an area that the company spent about $200-million on here in Regina,” Day said.
According to EVRAZ Short Term Disability will end with layoffs and will only resume on a return to
Life Insurance, Accidental Death and Dismemberment, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and Health and Dental benefits, will continue until February 28, 2021.
After that laid off workers would have to pay required premiums to retain benefits until the end of May.
USW Local 5890 President Mike Day speaks on the layoffs at EVRAZ.
EVRAZ North America has since responded, saying they are matching the size of the workforce to their current business. The news release goes on to say it’s been a challenging year for oil and gas production in the current economic conditions.