Sixty-six Houston Forest Products (HFP) employees are out of work Friday, half of whom have secured employment.
“It’s quiet around the mill. People seem quite somber. Nobody seems upset, they’re just very quiet,” said Tom Stringfellow, Steelworkers Union Transition Coordinator at HFP.
Friday marks the beginning of the phased HFP shut down, that affects 217 employees.
Twenty-four workers signed on to work an extra week of mill clean up, and will finish May 16. Of those, two have secured positions or are retiring.
Eighty-three other workers will finish May 23 or shortly after when the planer shuts down. Of those, 29 have secured work or are retiring.
The statistics were reported by West Fraser Transition Coordinator Lori Saretsky at a recent Worker Transition Pillar meeting.
Saretsky said 68 workers will be looking for work after HFP closes, preferring work in Houston or new industry.
Fifty-one workers accepted employment at other West Fraser mills. Saretsky says currently 16 will transfer to Smithers, 12 to Fraser Lake, eight to Quesnel, and the others to Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, Chasm, Chetwind, Edmonton, and Edson, Alberta.
Twenty-seven workers will retire after the closure.
Ten of the sixteen workers that quit are staying in Houston and seven of the ten who found work in other companies are staying in Houston.