WGXC-90.7 FM

Holcim layoffs to continue

Jan 04, 2011 6:07 am
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="200" caption="The Holcim Plant in Catskill, seen from an earlier Daily Mail story on current layoffs,"][/caption]The temporary layoffs at the Holcim cement plant in Catskill will continue until the end of February, a company official says in a Daily Mail story from reporter Doron Tyler Antrim this morning. The spokesperson at what used to be St. Lawrence Cement added that the layoffs, which were announced in November and originally effective until Monday, are being extended until February 28. “We continue to face challenging market conditions,” Holcim’s Vice President of Corporate Communications Robin DeCarlo said in an interview. The cutback has affected 62 hourly workers and eight others currently on short-term disability or workers compensation. In March 2009, 26 workers were let go, while two months later 35 were temporarily laid off. The plant, located in Catskill off Route 9W near Smiths Landing, formerly known as Cementon, has a total of 112 employees. Similar job cuts are expected at Stiefel, Greene County's other big manufacturer, over the coming months. Talk about a holiday season that just keeps taking, and an economy whose rallies keep staying utterly contained.

The extension of the layoffs is a sign Holcim continues to struggle financially amid a stubbornly slow economic recovery. “We continue to monitor the situation,” DeCarlo said.

In an e-mail last November, Plant Manager Deon van den Berg said “slow market conditions, the normal seasonal slowdown in construction and escalating costs” was the reason for the layoffs.

Dennis Smith, an equipment operator and union chairman at the plant, acknowledged in an interview last year that workers are concerned about the plant closing.

“It is definitely on the mind of every employee here,” he said.

In its latest economic forecast in November, the Portland Cement Association, a trade group representing North American cement companies, said cement consumption is forecasted to increase by less than one half of 1 percent through the end of 2010.

“Unfortunately, future gains in construction activity are dictated by labor conditions today,” said PCA chief economist Edward Sullivan. The organization maintained a positive outlook for the future, however, saying it expected consumption to increase 1.4 percent this year and 4 percent in 2012.

The layoff announcement was not the first for Holcim, which acquired St. Lawrence Cement in January 2008, taking over operations of the plant.

Holcim is a major financial backer and sponsor of many local events, including the Festival of Trees, Athens Street Festival, Cat’n Around Catskill street art project and Catskill Spring Rush triathlon.

The company also gave $5,000 last year to the fundraising campaign for the Greene County YMCA and completed its donation of 10 acres of plant-owned land to the Catskill Soccer Club. On top of its donation, the company also gave the club $5,000 to purchase equipment.

The Catskill plant is one of 10 cement facilities around the nation owned by Holcim (U.S.) Inc., the American subsidiary of Swiss-based Holcim Ltd, the world’s second largest cement manufacturer and supplier of crushed stone, sand and gravel.

Wave Farm / WGXC Acra Contact Info
Mailing: PO Box 13 Acra, NY 12405
Main Office / Acra Studio
(518) 622-2598
WGXC Office
(518) 697-7400
WGXC Hudson Studio
(518) 828-0290
WGXC Feedback
(518) 212-7509 feedback@wgxc.org
Wave Farm / WGXC Acra Studio: 5662 Route 23 Acra, NY 12405
WGXC Hudson Studio: 369 Warren St. Hudson, NY 12534