New Brunswick

Irving Oil lays off 78

Irving Oil is laying off 78 people, company officials confirmed on Tuesday after the affected employees were notified.

Irving Oil is laying off 78 people, company officials confirmed on Tuesday after the affected employees were notified.

The layoffs are the result of the finance and information technology department being consolidated into one division within the corporate office, spokeswoman Carolyn Van der Veen stated in an email.

Finance and IT is currently spread across the company, she said.

"As a company, we are constantly evaluating our industry and market conditions to ensure that we are resourced appropriately, said Van der Veen.

"As a result of this consolidation and subsequent process improvements, we’ve identified 78 positions which will no longer be required as we move forward."

"Over the course of the next 12 months, these positions will be transitioned out of the company," she told CBC News.

Van der Veen said the Saint John-based company is working hard to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible for the affected employees.

The layoff notices say there may be alternate positions for the employees within the company.

If not, they will receive severance according to years of service, as well as health and dental benefits during their severance period.

The employees could also qualify for up to $1,500 toward retraining or other education, the notices state.

2 layoffs, 2 major employers

The Irving layoffs come on the heels of job cuts at Moosehead Breweries, another major employer in the city.

Earlier this month, Moosehead announced 27 of just fewer than 100 management and administrative employees at its head office would lose their jobs immediately due to major changes in a contract.

The Irving Oil refinery in Saint John has been undergoing a $50-million maintenance upgrade, which was expected to result in the hiring of 700 extra workers.

The turnaround project will allow the company to perform maintenance and upgrade work on several units in the refinery’s north and south process areas.

The Saint John-based oil refinery is the largest in Canada. It produces 300,000 barrels of oil per day and is a major gasoline supplier to the northeastern United States.

Last year, Irving Oil Ltd.'s parent company, Fort Reliance, cancelled plans to build its new world headquarters at Saint John's Long Wharf, blaming the economic downturn for the decision.

In 2009, Irving Oil Ltd. and international oil giant BP halted plans to build a second refinery in the Saint John area. A study conducted by Irving Oil and BP concluded that the project was not viable during the economic downturn and the softening demand for petroleum products, officials said.