A four-week production staff layoff began at one of Hawkesbury’s more prominent industries starting Monday, February 25.

The 50 production employees at the Montebello Packaging plant on Aberdeen Street will be temporarily laid off.

A source contacted The Review late Friday afternoon to say that employees have been advised that the layoff will now last for two months.

However, Montebello President Jean-François Leclerc contacted The Review again early Friday evening and said the layoff will not last for two months and insisted its duration will be a minimum of four weeks as he originally stated in an interview on Wednesday.

Leclerc emphasized that the talk of an eight-week layoff “did not come from management.”

According to Leclerc, there is a shortage of work and orders from the industry right now.

But the insider source says that the work being done at the Hawkesbury plant will be transferred to the American plants.

Montebello manufactures aluminum and plastic tube packaging for the food, pharmaceutical, and personal care products industries.  The Hawkesbury plant specializes in aluminum packaging products.

The 50 employees in Montebello’s corporate offices in Hawkesbury are not affected by layoffs.

“I can’t promise anything,” Leclerc said about the four-week shutdown.

He hopes to know by the two-week point in the shutdown if the employees will be able to return to work.

The production workers at Montebello Packaging in Hawkesbury are represented by the United Steelworkers Union (USW). Leclerc said that management has been communicating with the union regarding the temporary layoffs.

The affected employees will not be paid by Montebello during the layoff period but are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MP Francis Drouin issued the following statement, “I am aware of the layoffs currently taking place at Montebello Packaging in Hawkesbury and I am thinking of the affected workers and their families. I have asked Service Canada, who administers the Employment Insurance Program, to reach out to Montebello. My office and I remain available to assist workers during these difficult times.”

Leclerc is concerned about losing employees who are laid off and decide to get jobs at other places.  He said it would mean a loss of skills and knowledge for Montebello.

“It’s not an easy decision,” Leclerc said about temporarily halting production and laying-off workers in Hawkesbury.

He said Montebello’s other plants will not be affected because they produce different products than the Hawkesbury plant.

Montebello Packaging is a division of Great Pacific Enterprises.  The company was founded as Montebello Metal in 1952 in Montebello, Québec, and relocated to Hawkesbury in 1967. Montebello Packaging also has plants in Lachine, Québec; Lebanon, Kentucky and Harrisonburg, Virginia.