Kellogg's to close London plant by the end of 2014
More than 500 jobs will be lost after Kellogg’s announced it will close its London plant by the end of 2014.
A mandatory meeting was held Tuesday morning at the Four Points Sheraton, where Kellogg’s informed full-time unionized workers of their intention to close the plant by the end of 2014.
The decision is part of the company’s four-year, Project K efficiency and effectiveness program.
“What do you do? I guess we're just going to have to move on like everybody else does,” says Jami Kelly.
Kelly is a legacy at Kellogg’s, with his father and uncle both working there before him. The 53-year-old has spent the past two decades with the company, and is concerned about the future.
“I hope by the end of next year, I’ll be near retirement and I’m hoping they’ll do the right thing and bridge some of us,” says Kelly. “Help us out.”
Others like Cindy Hilder, are upset about the timing of the announcement being so close to the holidays.
“Merry Christmas, thanks for telling us right now,” says Hilder.
Hilder has spent the past seven years with the company and says even now, people are struggling financially.
“There’s no jobs here, what are we going to do?” says Hilder.
A release sent out by the Kellogg Company explains changes to the supply chain infrastructure also include the closure of their snacks plant in Charmhaven, Australia. The cereal company will expand their snack and cereal plant in Rayong, Thailand.
“As with any project of this scope and one that impacts people, these are difficult decisions,” said John Bryant, President and CEO, Kellogg Company. “We are very mindful of the impact these changes will have – particularly to our employees. As our employees and others would expect from Kellogg, we will help those who are impacted through their transitions.”
The decision comes a month after the cereal maker laid off 110 of its 500 full-time unionized workers.
“Some of these people have been here 20, 30 years,” says Hilder. “It’s going to affect some of these peoples retirement.”
The plant on Dundas Street East has been a fixture in the city for nearly a century, becoming a Kellogg's plant in 1924.
Officials react to decision
London Mayor Joe Fontana has expressed anger that the city wasn't given a chance to try to find a way to save the plant, since no on at Kellogg's spoke with him before the decision was made.
"To just discard them so that they can build another plant in Thailand, you know that really burns you," he says. "We wanted to speak with them to say 'How is it possible that we can help you with this transition,' but now to be told that they're closing the plant, it's really unacceptable. For some public relations organization to call me up and say 'How're you feeling?' Well how do you think I'm feeling? You know, give me a break. At the end of the day we have made overtures, I've brought prime ministers to that plant."
Meanwhile Kapil Lakhotia at the London Economic Development Corporation says the decision to close the plant will be felt far and wide.
"Kellogg's has been a big name not just in London but in the whole food-processing industry in Ontario, and it's been one of the names that we put in front of potential investors as well."
It is a particular hit as the city has been trying to reinvent itself as an agri-food hub.
London-Fanshawe MP Irene Mathyssen represents the riding near where the plant is located and worked at the plant herself while she attended university.
She says "All of these jobs meant that this city could thrive and it could look to the future, and I worry very much about that future. Our young people will be leaving."