TRURO, Nova Scotia – Unifor leadership and members hosted a rally and BBQ at Tandus Carpets in Truro on June 7 to support the more than 200 members who will lose their jobs next month when the carpet manufacturer moves their jobs to Georgia.
In April, Tarkett (a global flooring company with over $3.1 billion US in revenues) announced it would close its Truro business, Tandus. Unifor represents the workers at Tandus, one of Truro’s largest private-sector employers.
The news came as a shock to the workers many of whom had given decades of loyalty and service to the company. Seventy of the workers have more than 30 years’ seniority and 48 of them more than 40 years. In addition, there had been new hires over the past few years, including within months of the announced closure.
Since the announcement, Unifor has made repeated requests to meet with the company in an effort to negotiate a fair closure agreement.
“We would expect the company would offer a generous severance package for the employees given all their years of loyalty and dedicated service and work,” said Lana Payne, Atlantic Regional Director. “Not only have they refused to offer any form of compensation to our members they have been unwilling to meet with the union to discuss severance and other issues related to the announced closure.”
The reorganization of the parent company Tarkett will see the work currently being done by the workers of Truro moving to Georgia in the United States. Georgia is a “right-to-work” state known for its low wages and lack of union protections.
“This is a cold-hearted business decision that has nothing to do with markets, but rather with shifting work to a place where the labour is cheap,” said Payne.
Adding to the problem is a sub-standard Industry Closing Act in Nova Scotia that provides few obligations from employers and businesses who decide to abandon workers and communities.
For example, the penalties associated with violating the act are a completely ineffective $100 a day.
“We are demanding the employer sit down and negotiate a fair closure agreement with our union and we expect politicians to stand up for the workers of the province,” said Payne.
Unifor has proposed a closure agreement to the company and has yet to receive a response.