CHICAGO Energex Tube has
laid off 94 employees at its operations in Welland, Ontario,
and the citys mayor and a union official say that the
company is considering permanently closing a pipe mill at the
The most recent cuts have
reduced Energex Tubes work force in Welland to 126
employees from 220, Doug Orr, national representative of the
Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union, told AMM
The same day, Welland Mayor
Barry Sharpe told AMM that the layoffs, which are
permanent, were announced last week and will take effect in
Both Orr and Sharpe said they
hoped Energex Tube parent company JMC Steel Group Inc.,
Chicago, would continue to make steel pipe in Welland.
JMC, which acquired the Welland
site from the former Lakeside Steel Inc. (
amm.com, April 4), didnt respond to requests
for comment. The company has previously said that the mill
wasnt expected to be shuttered (
amm.com, July 6).
The company in early summer had
announced 110 job cuts (
amm.com, June 29).
The latest layoffs mean that
Energex Tubes 8-inch-diameter pipe mill in Welland, which
is "very, very old" and in need of a "massive injection of
money" to be competitive, could be closed for good, Orr
"Energex used the phrase
idled. ... We believe its shut down
permanently," he said. "Other mills that are more modern
probably have one-third the work force. ... So its pretty
difficult to compete."
Sharpe largely agreed with that
assessment of the 8-inch mill. "That is our understanding as
well," he said. "It is certainly being mothballed."
Thats tough news in a city
that has been making pipe for more than 100 years, he said.
Orr noted that the layoffs also
affected the upsetting and threading operations at the Welland
facility. However, while these operations have been scaled
back, "it is to be determined whether it will be idled down the
road," he said.
Orr and Sharpe also stressed
that investments made by JMC at Energex Tubes stretch
reduction mill in Welland indicated that the company
didnt plan to leave the city.
"Like so many other heavy
industry cities, we have to keep looking on the positive side,"
Sharpe said, adding that Welland is offering Energex Tube as
much help as it can, including lobbying the province of Ontario
for more favorable water and electricity rates.
The CAW is looking to reduce
permanent layoffs at Energex Tubes Welland operations
through incentivized retirements and other measures, Orr said.
But getting its stretch reduction mill running at capacity is
also a top priority, he added.
"We are optimistic that when the
market picks up we can put some additional volume on there, and
that obviously would generate a need for more manpower," Orr
The stretch reduction mill makes
tubulars for the oil and gas market, which is soft at present
but is cyclical and could rebound enough for the facility to
potentially operate at full capacity, he said.
"The (stretch reduction mill) is
the jewel of that plant and the strength of that plant over the
last several years. We hope to get it back to that (position),"