Nova Scotia

Maritime Steel says it needs $1M loan to pay workers

A century-old steel foundry in New Glasgow is hoping the province can step forward and keep the plant running, but workers say they feel the end is near.
Even with a backlog of orders, the floor at Maritime Steel is silent. (CBC)

A century-old steel foundry in New Glasgow is hoping the province can step forward and keep the plant running, but workers say they already feel the end is near.

Maritime Steel owner Abbas Jafarnia has spent nearly $2.5 million on the business since he purchased it over a year ago, much of it to pay the foundry's 20 or so employees.

Now there's little left over for day-to-day operations so production has halted.

"We have customers who are paying us upfront to just help us to stay in the game and to not quit. But I cannot see the government caring about our situation and helping us," Jafarnia said.

He said he's looking for a loan from the province to hire extra workers and fill a backlog of orders.

Jafarnia argues a $1 million loan would go further in New Glasgow than the government's $125-million financial aid package to help Pacific West Commercial Corp. restart the former NewPage mill in Port Hawkesbury.

"For our situation, which is $1 million for at least 50 jobs, it's less than 20,000 dollars per person," he said.

The province said Maritime Steel needs to come up with more working capital before it can qualify for a loan.

"I met with the union, I met with Mr. Jafarnia, I outlined to Maritime Steel what I was looking for. If they don't want to provide that additional information then my decision remains as is," said Economic Development Minister Percy Paris.

Workers at Maritime Steel said they fear it's only a matter of time before the plant closes.

George McKeigan, 45, thinks the province needs to help local workers.

"I would like to see the place going for another 50 years, but I don't know if that's going to happen."

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