Invista is announcing layoffs at its Kingston plant as prolonged rail disruptions have prevented delivery of supplies, according to employees there. The exact number and duration of layoffs is unknown at this time. The Kingston plant typically employs between 550 and 600 people.
Neither Invista nor the Kingston Independent Nylon Workers Union, which represents local Invista employees, responded to multiple requests for information prior to publication.
Following initial publication, Paul Brown of Invista Public Affairs denied that any lay-off notices had been issued to any Kingston plant employees. “We continue to monitor the blockade and its impact on manufacturing operations very closely, and I will provide an update at the appropriate time if the situation changes,” said Mr Brown in an email. Mr Brown declined to comment on the discrepancy between his statement and those received by Kingstonist from employees.
The rail disruptions continue as Wet’suwet’en solidarity demonstrations take place near train tracks throughout the country, including one in Tyendinaga, near Belleville.
Before Saturday, several of the Kingston factory’s areas had already been running at only a fraction of their capacity, employees report. The plant had ramped down manufacturing for over a week, according to sources, in hopes of “stretching out” supplies and preventing a full shutdown.
Those hopes were dashed on Friday, however, as progress towards a possible resolution appeared to stall. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemed to harden his stance in a speech on Friday regarding the rail disruptions. On the same day, the Tyendinaga Mohawk group asserted that rail disruptions in Tyendinaga would continue for as long as the RCMP remained in Wet’suwet’en territory.
Invista’s Kingston plant has operated for about 77 years, being Canada’s first and the world’s second nylon plant. The factory manufactures materials for air bags, carpets, automotive and electrical parts, among other items. It previously announced layoffs in 2017 as a result of supply disruptions due to Hurricane Harvey. Before that, it had announced layoffs in 2013 as part of a corporate restructuring.
The reported Invista layoff notices follow an announcement by Via Rail that it was laying off 1,000 employees due to train disruptions. CN also recently announced it was laying off 450 employees, although it had already announced layoffs of 1600 employees in 2019. At that time, CN said the layoffs were due to international trade tensions and slow economic growth.
This is a developing story and Kingstonist will continue to update this article as more information is made available.