Nadeau Cuts One-Quarter of its Workforce
By Nadeau Poultry News ReleaseFeatures Business & Policy Farm Business
December 12, 2011 – Nadeau Poultry, New Brunswick's only chicken processor, announced further layoffs today as their supply of New Brunswick grown chicken continues to dwindle.
December 12, 2011 – Nadeau Poultry,
New Brunswick's only chicken processor, announced further layoffs today
as their supply of New Brunswick grown chicken continues to dwindle.
Nadeau Poultry's general manager Yves Landry says, "We have been warning the New Brunswick government for months that there would be more job loss here in the North unless they stepped in. We held out from doing this as long as we could."
Nadeau Poultry feels the the failure of the New Brunswick government to uphold their portion of the national supply management system in the chicken industry allowed one single corporation to gain an effective monopoly over New Brunswick grown chicken. In 2005, the N.B. government, under former agriculture minister Alward's (who is now the Premier) watch, removed regulations that prevented monopolies from forming.
Westco (a company comprised of New Brunswick poultry producers) was Nadeau's largest supplier of chicken (nearly 80 per cent of provincial supply) until it decided to ship its birds to Olymel l.p. in Quebec for processing until it builds its own processing plant in partnership with Olymel in Clair, near
St. Francois de Madawaska. Nadeau was thus left without enough birds to keep it's processing plant running indefinitely.
"We lost another 22,000 birds per week in August," said Landry. "We decided at that point that we would cut hours across the board instead of laying people off. That is simply no longer viable. We were trying to limit the impact but unfortunately we no longer have a choice. We have hung on as long as we could, with hopes that the government would step in and start regulating the industry as required by legislation. If we want to stay afloat, we had to let people go."
Landry adds that the company struggled with its decision, particularly with Christmas coming. "We decided that it was the most humane thing to do. We didn't want people over-extending at Christmas and then being faced with the bills in January and no job. We have close to 30 couples where both spouses are employed here. Clearly, the impact is crippling for those families."
Despite the fact that Premier Alward has the opportunity to correct mistakes made in the past, Landry says that so far Alward has refused to do so.
"The New Brunswick government needs to step up to the plate and fix the mess that was caused back in 2005 when regulations were removed that prevented monopolies from forming – a decision which occurred under Premier Alward's watch as then Minister of Agriculture. Because of this failure, the New Brunswick chicken industry and the employees of Nadeau Poultry are paying."
Landry has also stated his frustration with how the North is being treated. "We are easy to ignore up here," Landry says. "They are oblivious to our stress and anxiety sitting down there in Fredericton." Landry says that they have invited Michael Olscamp, the Minister of Agriculture and Premier Alward to come to St. Francois to hear the worries of the Nadeau Poultry employees but they have refused those invitations saying that the meetings would not be constructive. "They are avoiding having to look at us. They don't want to acknowledge the suffering in this community."
The recent announcement of the Northern New Brunswick Economic Development and Innovation Fund by Premier Alward and Paul Robichaud, Minister of Economic Development, was met with anger by the people of St. Francois. Landry says that they see it as a promise that completely lacks substance. "If Alward's government were really serious about helping the North they would start by protecting the jobs that currently exist before trying to create new ones," says Landry.
Landry warns companies looking at investing in New Brunswick to look at Nadeau Poultry's situation and think twice before coming to the province.
"If the government refuses to protect a more than 50 year old business and its 250 employees even when they have the power to do so and, on top of that, even ignores their legislated duty to manage it, what does that say to investors?" he asks. "Risky business," answers Landry.
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