Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City company closing doors

GreenSteel issues 35 layoff notices

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A Winnipeg company is closing its doors after 80 years in business, laying off about 35 employees.

GreenSteel Industries, a manufacturer of hollow steel doors and frames, issued layoff notices to employees on Thursday in the wake of its being sold to another company.

GreenSteel had been owned since 1997 by Allmar International, a distributor of architectural hardware and doors. It has been sold to Assa Door Group out of Woodbridge, Ont.

"They're buying it to put a competitor out of business, I suppose," said Aaron Redekopp, an executive with Allmar. The plant is on Pandora Avenue in Transcona.

"The market has shrunk due to what has happened in the United States economy, and there's a saturation of supply," Redekopp said. The layoffs came the same day Cangene Corp. announced 120 of its 700 jobs would be cut by next month, hitting another Winnipeg firm hard.

Assa has offered some employees positions at its Woodbridge plant. Redekopp said he doesn't believe anyone has accepted. Allmar expects to hire from eight to 10 of the laid-off workers.

A provincial spokesman said no notice of the company's layoffs was sent to the province, but no notice is necessary if there are under 50 workers being laid off.

The spokesman said if less than 50 employees are laid off, they must receive wages or notice in lieu of wages ranging from one to eight weeks depending on how long they have been working. If 50 or more employees are affected they must all receive 10 weeks.

The company's employees have not been unionized since they asked for decertification following a bitter 10-day strike in 1982. The workers had been seeking a 30 per cent wage increase over two years and had rejected the company's offer of 21 per cent.

The Manitoba Labour Board later upheld a company decision to terminate 19 workers following the strike.

According to the company's website, GreenSteel began as a foundry in 1932, and then began manufacturing sheet metal products. It started manufacturing steel doors and frames in 1966.

Cangene, one of Canada's oldest and largest biotech firms, blamed the layoffs on declining sales in the United States.

Ron Koslowsky, vice-president of the Manitoba chapter of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, a trade and industry association, said the layoffs by two companies on the same day is just coincidental and not a sign of trouble in the province's industrial sector.

"It's the normal wear and tear of business," Koslowsky said.

"We are subject to decisions made outside our province. This is not a reflection of a great deal of trouble in the economy."

But Koslowsky said while it's news when a company lays off dozens of employees, other Manitoba companies quietly hire many more one at a time during the year.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 7, 2012 A12

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