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Curtain falls on PPG Monday

Post Time:Dec 15,2008Classify:Company NewsView:406

Owen Sound's glass making plant will cease operations Monday, six weeks sooner than was originally planned.

PPG managers had announced to employees that the plant would stop making glass on Jan. 31, but decided this week to push that deadline forward.

"Given how the markets have deteriorate and things continue to get even worse, decisions were made in the last day or so to accelerate our closure and the shutdown will begin Monday," plant manager Tom Closs said Friday.

"Everyone is very shocked and very somber. When it [the plant´s closing] was announced in September, everybody was thinking that March would be the end, but that was never an official statement."

The plant has 170 employees, three-quarters of whom have been there for about 30 years. Because the official closing date had been announced last week as Jan. 31, employees will receive eight weeks´ pay.

Workers will still have plant duties to perform throughout most of December, including shutting down and cleaning out the factory.

Starting in January, however, the workforce will be phased out. Some will stay on beyond January to help sell and ship remaining inventory, something Closs said he expects will take no more than four months.

Workers were surprised to learn of Monday´s closing, said Jack Cutting, president of the Canadian Auto Workers Local 248 and a PPG employee.

"We´re doing as good as can be expected," he said. "We knew it was coming, they bumped it (the date) up, but people will either get paid for eight weeks or the company will have work for them to do."

PPG relies heavily on the construction industry for its sales. It also has several clients in the automotive industry. Given the worldwide economic slowdown, PPG sales have plummeted, dropping by half in the last month alone. In September PPG announced a massive restructuring plan for its flat-or-float glass business units that included closing the Owen Sound plant in the first quarter of 2009 and one of two production lines at its Mt. Zion, Ill., plant in the second quarter of 2009.

Last week, PPG executives gave official notice to the government that they would be closing the Owen Sound plant Jan. 31, marking the first time a firm date had been set.

The Mt. Zion line closing was also fast-tracked to this month.

In addition to a sharp decline in glass sales, the local plant also needed to rebuild the furnace, a move that would have required anywhere from $15 million to $50 million to complete. It was the combination of those two factors that sealed the plant´s fate.

"I have been tremendously impressed with the workforce on how professional they have been through this whole process," Closs said. "Our plant performance has be very, very strong and our expectation was that things would fall off, but they haven´t and I commend the entire plant for that."

Source: PPG IndustriesAuthor: shangyi

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