Up to 150 workers set to head back to work at Tenaris AlgomaTubes factory
Vice-president says factory restart will proceed 'cautiously'
Production is set to resume at the Tenaris AlgomaTubes factory in Sault Ste. Marie this November.
The company's factory, which manufactures seamless pipes for the oil and gas industry, has been shut down since Feb. 8 due to the high price of oil and volatility in the market.
In a statement, Tenaris AlgomaTubes said it will be recalling approximately 120-150 union employees who were laid off earlier this year.
"We are cautiously proceeding to restart Algoma, understanding the environment of today remains difficult," said Tenaris Canada vice-president Guillermo Moreno in a statement.
"While market volatility persists, a modest improvement in Tenaris' forecast, as well as progress in ongoing policy discussions with members of the federal and provincial government that support Canadian manufacturing drove the decision to commence operations," the statement continued.
Factory only employing one third of original numbers
It's welcome news for the union representing the factory's employees.
"We're confident we're out of the worst it," said Cody Alexander, president of United Steelworkers Local 9548.
But the number of workers being recalled now is only one third the number that were employed at the factory in 2014, Alexander said.
At that time, the mill had 520 unionized employees. Layoffs in December 2014 reduced the workforce to less than half.
The factory then completely shut down on February 8.
Union cautiously optimistic
Alexander said the company told the union that it had acquired new orders, and was confident it would be able to keep the rehired employees working.
"But they never want to give 100 per cent on anything because of the volatility of the oil sector," he said.
"They're a resilient group. They understand the oil sector. Many of us have been doing this for 15 years here and it's always been up and down," he said. "But financially, a lot of these guys have family."
Alexander said in the last two years, many of the mill workers have resigned or found other employment.
"There's not a lot of work in Sault Ste. Marie for manufacturing experienced people. There's only Essar Steel and it's in its own trouble now," he said.
"A lot of them have been waiting and many have had to leave town. I know a few guys went down south and some out west."