LONDON, Ont. — Kellogg’s delivered a major body blow to this southern Ontario city Tuesday morning, telling angry workers that it is shutting down its plant.
The cereal plant employed more than 500 workers. Workers were summoned to a meeting at the Four Points Sheraton.
“Kellogg’s has been my whole life,” a despondent Mike Coulter said after the meeting. Coulter worked at the plant for 30 years.
“If anybody is hiring any cereal makers, here we are,” Coulter said.
Fellow worker Bruce Monteith said Kellogg’s employees sensed bad news was coming.
“They don’t call a meeting like this for anything good," he said. "They are not handing out Christmas bonuses or turkeys.”
In its latest quarterly report, the U.S.-based company revealed it’s launching Project K and setting aside more than $1 billion to increase efficiency. The program was to include plant consolidations.
Back in November, Kellogg’s announced it was laying off 20% of its London workforce.
The decision to close the factory follows Heinz’s announcement last month that it plans to shut down its plant in Leamington, Ont., which will kill 740 jobs.
The union saw trouble back in 2011 when Kellogg Canada invested $43 million to upgrade it’s plant in Belleville, Ont.
Ontario taxpayers contributed $4.5 million to the Belleville expansion.
Tory MPP Monte McNaughton said the government shouldn’t be putting money into one plant at the expense of another community.
After news of the closure broke, PC Leader Tim Hudak told the legislature the government should continue working for another week to deal with the jobs crisis.
He listed a series of plants that have shut down their Ontario operations and moved production to the U.S., including the Caterpillar plant in London and John Deere in Welland.
Hudak said if Premier Kathleen Wynne can’t come up with a strategy before Christmas, she’s welcome to steal the Conservative platform.
Wynne brushed off the offer to extend the sitting of the legislature and said the minister of training, colleges and universities is closely monitoring the situation and will be ready to assist the workers.
She defended the Liberal government’s jobs strategy and attacked Hudak’s calls for right-to-work legislation that will make union membership and dues voluntary.
“That will provoke a race to the bottom. We’re not going there,” Wynne said.
NDP MPP for London-Fanshawe Teresa Armstrong said it’s “truly despicable that this government once again is sitting on the sidelines while Londoners lose their jobs.”