Ontario Heinz workers strike layoff deal

A large ketchup bottle is painted on the side of the Heinz plant in Leamington, Ont. on Friday...

A large ketchup bottle is painted on the side of the Heinz plant in Leamington, Ont. on Friday November 22, 2013. The company has announced it is closing the plant in 2014. (Craig Glover/QMI Agency)

Randy Richmond, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:08 PM ET

LONDON, ONT. - Workers at the soon-to-be-closed Heinz plant in Leamington, Ont., know when they're leaving and how much they'll get when they go.

The plant will stop operating June 27, and each worker will get two weeks of severance for every year worked with no cap, under a deal announced Thursday.

Each worker will also get a $2,500 productivity bonus, 52 weeks of benefits and a guarantee of no layoffs until May, said Rob Crawford, head of the UFCW Local 459.

“I think it's a fair deal,” he said. “They could have just ignored us and paid us the U.S.A. standards, which is one week per year of service up to 26 weeks, and you have to have five years to get that.”

Owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and 3G Capital, Heinz announced in November it was closing the 104-year old tomato and vegetable processing plant and letting go 740 workers.

The firm date comes as a relief, Crawford said.

“Now we know what's ahead of us. The layoffs will start sometime in May and June 27 is the final day,” he said.

But the relief at getting a good deal is mixed with the lingering pain of the closing, Crawford said.

“You could get four weeks a year and still, the place is closing.”

The company is also contributing $500,000 to a retraining centre, Crawford said.

“We're going to be opening up an action centre down here to help everybody with the transition.”


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