Irish welders who were working on the Long Harbour nickel processing plant construction site were sent home this past weekend without any explanation, the workers say.
The welders came to Newfoundland and Labrador for 12 weeks of work, but 26 of those workers were sent home after just three weeks on the job.
Many said they left jobs in Ireland to work at Long Harbour, and now they are headed home in shock and disbelief.
"If you're expected to work and leave jobs for 10 to 14 weeks, and you get four, there's something radically wrong, very radically wrong," Martin Masterson told CBC News at St. John's airport.
To make a bad situation worse, the workers said they were not told the reasons why they were let go.
"We were just handed our flight tickets back to Ireland out of the blue," Michael Sugrue said. "We can't believe it."
More layoffs to come
The massive processing plant is being built for Vale. The company said Thursday construction is beginning to wrap up and construction workers are being let go.
Vale spokesperson Bob Carter said it is just the nature of the job.
"It's not uncommon in the construction industry that once work is completed, it's the contractor's decision to release workers that are unnecessary to complete the project, and that was the case with these temporary foreign workers from Ireland," he said.
Carter warned there are more layoffs on the horizon.
"We have peaked construction at Long Harbour and we will be declining the work force there fairly significantly over the next number of weeks."
"The job for this phase is finished at the end of October and at that time there will be a significant decline in what the workforce numbers look like," Carter said.
The workers said they wish they were told before leaving their homes and jobs in Ireland that they could be taken off the job site within weeks of beginning work.
"We are still in a very deep state of shock at this moment of time," Masterson said ." We all have wives and families and we are going home to them."
Despite the recent and impending lay offs, the provincial government is still recruiting workers in Ireland. A recruitment fair will be held in Dublin and Waterford, Ireland in November with 15 local companies signed up to participate.
The welders who were laid off at Long Harbour said they will be telling people not to come here for jobs.