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Haworth lays off 600 in Canada

Monday 24 August 2009

Some 600 people at Haworth Inc.\'s Calgary manufacturing plant were told yesterday they will be laid off, the latest victims of the recession that has obliterated thousands from the workforce across North America.
The plant was formerly owned and operated by SMED International, which Haworth took over in 2000.
Haworth, an office furniture maker based in Holland, Mich., is moving the Calgary manufacturing operation to the U.S. state, where it is expecting a tax incentive package worth $22.4 million over 13 years.
The company also cited \"excess capacity as a result of the global economic environment\" as a reason for the Calgary plant closure and the job cuts which will happen over the next year.
But according to one Haworth employee who wished to remain anonymous, the company\'s Calgary operations hadn\'t turned a profit for nearly a decade.
\"There\'s always been rumours. There\'ve been rumours probably for about nine years,\" he said.
So when the Haworth employees were informed of the layoffs at 8:10 a.m. yesterday, the news \"came as a shock, but not really as a surprise,\" he said.
Those affected by the layoffs have yet to find out about severance packages, but the employee said because the layoffs were so \"massive,\" the packages probably won\'t be large. The man worked for Haworth for more than 10 years.
Now, he\'ll have to update his resume and look for a job during a time when the ranks of Calgary\'s unemployed are growing.
While most observers agree that the Alberta economy is on the mend, unemployment generally tends to increase during the first months of a recovery. Alberta\'s unemployment rate sat at 7.2% in July.
The manufacturing sector has been one of the hardest hit since the recession took hold last year.
\"Obviously, with the market the way it is, it is probably a little tougher to find similar work,\" the employee said.
Haworth will keep an office and a showroom in Calgary and employ about 100 people. But the company will sell it\'s manufacturing plant in the Foothills Industrial Park.
\"The existing building will be put up for sale, but will continue to remain open as we seek to develop a space in the area to house a new showroom,\" spokeswoman Angela Luedke said in an e-mail. \"We plan for Calgary to remain a critical centre of excellence for our walls business.\"
After the layoffs, Haworth will employ about 600 people in Canada.

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