The Come by Chance oil refinery laid off more than 100 workers last week; concerns about the implications of the layoffs, including health and safety and issues arising from the reduced staffing levels, are swirling. Today the NDP Caucus brought some of those questions to the House of Assembly, looking for some sign that government is taking the issues seriously.
“The recent announcement of more than 100 layoffs at the oil refinery in Come by Chance is a serious blow to the laid off workers, their families and the economy of the area,” said NDP House Leader Lorraine Michael.
“I ask the Premier, has he or any Ministers met with North Atlantic Refining in an attempt to stop the layoffs? If so, what was the outcome of these efforts? What is his plan to go to bat for the people in the communities hurt by these layoffs?”
Michael says even though government has no apparent provincial jobs strategy, it has a responsibility to try to maintain jobs, particularly in rural areas where full-time, permanent, well-paying jobs are scarce.
St. John’s Centre MHA Gerry Rogers raised the safety implications. Oil refineries are large and complicated structures which process volatile substances.
“The remaining employees of the refinery and their union, the United Steelworkers, have serious concerns about how these layoffs affect safety in the facility,” said Rogers.
“I ask the Minister of Service NL, has there been a full safety inspection of the refinery since the layoffs took effect?”
Rogers says the reduced staffing levels make safety inspections more necessary than ever, and adds that inspection results should be made fully available to the workers, their union, and the general public.