Canadian Packaging

New Brunswick poultry plant to axe 60 jobs

Layoffs due to lack of chickens to process.


December 14, 2011
by Canadian Packaging Staff

Nadeau Poultry Farms Ltd. has announced lay-offs of 26 per cent (60 employees) of its staff owing to a shortage of chicken to process.

Yves Landry, manager of Nadeau, situated in St-François-de-Madawaska, NB, says the company tried to resist these lay-offs, but could no longer afford to employ all 230 current staff members.

“We lost another 22,000 birds per week in August,” explains Landry in a statement. “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.”

Maple Lodge Farms, headquartered in Brampton, Ont., the parent company of Nadeau says that while the timing of the lay-offs is not ideal for those involved, it did want to gives its employees fair warning before spending during the holidays.

“It’s terrible. We really, really struggled with it. In the end, we were worried that this time of year people go out and they quite often over-extend themselves financially and the last thing we wanted to do is place them in a position where they were surprised in January when they didn’t have a job,” says Carol Gardin, national corporate communications officer for Maple Lodge.

Nadeau is the only chicken processor in the province of New Brunswick, and has been in conflict with Groupe Westco Inc., a major New Brunswick chicken producer, for years.

In 2009, one year after Westco partnered with Quebec-based Olymel L.P. to form Sunnymel and started to ship New Brunswick chickens to Olymel’s slaughterhouse in Quebec, Nadeau cut 165 jobs.

Gardin said Nadeau has been getting by with an alternate supply of chickens from Nova Scotia, but in June, once a new facility opens in the province and Nadeau loses the extra supply, the company will likely go through another round of layoffs.

An option for Nadeau might be to purchase chickens from Quebec, but it acknowledged that an inter-provincial trade battle could hamper those efforts.

Earlier this month, Nadeau employees protested at the New Brunswick Legislature in hopes the provincial government would help protect their jobs. So far, no progress has been made on that front.

Sunnymel is scheduled to open a new slaughterhouse in the village of Clair, NB, which is expected to have a weekly slaughtering capacity of about 450,000 birds to serve the entire Maritimes market.