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Sonoco packaging plant to close, putting more than 100 out of work

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WINNIPEG - More than 100 employees will be out of work after a Winnipeg packaging plant shuts down.

The Sonoco plant at 1664 Seel Avenue will be shut down by the end of August, the South Carolina-headquartered company announced Friday.

The majority of employees at the flexible packaging plant worked as machine operators or in the plant’s warehouse, with a smaller group working in administration or management. News of the closure hit employees Thursday afternoon.

"It’s been a tough go the last three or four years," said Maurice Thiessen, the plant’s lead shipper and president of Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) Local Union 830, which represents about 80 unionized workers at the plant.

Six of Sonoco’s other flexible packaging plants will now be getting the Winnipeg plant’s business. 

The news didn’t come unexpectedly, said Thiessen. In February, the company "reduced" by 13 employees.

Thiessen said employees were "pretty upset" about news of the closure. "We’re disappointed that they made this choice," he said.

Robin Montgomery, a Sonoco spokesman, said the closure was "driven by the need to consolidate operations."

"Over the past four or five years, we’ve seen a reduction in our business from our customers, as they have moved their demand into other regions of North America," said Montgomery. The company said in a news release it will provide "severance, extended benefits, and outplacement assistance to affected employees."

At its peak, the plant had about 170 employees, about four to five years ago.
The company said of 102 employees at the Winnipeg plant, about 89 were active as of last week.

Gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Friday, May 13, 2011 at 2:21 PM CDT: Updated with more details, quotes

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