Title: “Hog Market Downturn Forces Layoffs at Olymel Pork Processing Plant in Red Deer”
Red Deer’s Olymel pork processing plant is set to experience significant job losses, with 100 staff members facing layoffs due to a downturn in the hog market. Confirmed by spokesperson Audrey Giboulet, the plant has already issued 30 temporary layoff notices, with an additional 30 expected this week.
The future remains uncertain as plant managers declared the local facility overstaffed by 200 people on Jan. 4. Depending on market conditions, some employees may be called back in the coming weeks or months, Giboulet noted.
Olymel, a major employer in Red Deer with 1,800 unionized workers as of 2021, has been impacted by global challenges in pork production and processing over the past three years. Western Canada, including Alberta and Saskatchewan, has seen reductions in hog production and the closure of hog barns.
To mitigate the effects of downsizing, Olymel Red Deer has introduced an early retirement incentive program. Workers over 60 or with 10 or more years of service as of Jan. 30, not eligible for the special early retirement benefit, can now participate. Already, four individuals have enrolled, and an additional 20 have expressed interest.
The success of the early retirement program and the plant’s natural turnover rate will determine further layoffs at Olymel. Giboulet emphasized that positions vacated will not be immediately filled until the required workforce size is achieved.
“These announcements are one-off measures designed to adapt our workforce needs to our operational requirements,” Giboulet added. A spokesperson from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union was unavailable for comment as of Monday.