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MANA moves Ontario plant equipment

Oct 14, 2013 | 07:28 PM |

Tags  Max Aicher North America, rebar, threaded rebar, David Cameron, Rolf Gerstenberger, Ontario plant, equipment move, Samuel Frizell

NEW YORK — Max Aicher North America Ltd. (MANA) has removed equipment from its Hamilton, Ontario, bar mill and shipped it to its European operations after months of labor disputes with the local union failed to bring the rebar and rod plant back online.

The move of the equipment "should be no surprise to anyone, let alone (United Steel Workers union) Local 1005," MANA said Oct. 11. "The benefit that could have been enjoyed locally will now be in Europe."

The equipment consisted of a peeler, which is used to reduce the diameter of steel billets for further processing, USW Local 1005 president Rolf Gerstenberger said.

The company couldn’t be reached to verify the equipment involved.

Hamilton-based MANA hasn’t rolled steel at its 300,000-ton-per-year threaded bar mill since September 2011, and laid off the last of its unionized workers in December. Several contract offers have been made to the local union, with the final offer overwhelmingly rejected in June (, June 28).

The plant has been left with a skeleton crew, and most of the original staff have been laid off or left the company. Former chief financial officer David Cameron, who was involved in talks with Local 1005, recently left MANA.

Communication between the mill and laid-off workers has been minimal since June. "There are no talks," Gerstenberger said. "It’s a strange situation: their last chief financial officer, David Cameron, he was the person we spoke with. Now there’s really no one of the original team left."

MANA received a $9-million loan from the provincial government when it opened its facility, a portion of which was used on the peeler that is being sent back to Europe, Gerstenberger said.

The company said it is still willing to reach an agreement with the union, but it needs to cut costs in order to operate.

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