Discouraging turn on employment front

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Shock would be one word to describe reaction to the announcement Monday that Michelin North America will be cutting a total of 500 jobs at its plant in Granton, Pictou County. At the same time, such news comes less and less as a surprise as we continually see the loss of traditional manufacturing jobs in Canada.

With 200 positions affected as of this June and another 300 a year afterward, this is a blow not only to the largely rural county, but to northern Nova Scotia in general as it grapples with job loss and a drain on population. If each job directly impacts several family members, the loss affects many more than 500.

Our primary sympathies are for those people.

The change as stated by the company is diminishing demand for smaller tires, 14-, 15- and 16-inch, adding that upgrades at the plant for a production change wouldn’t be cost-effective. In the realm of manufacturing, some might second-guess this and wonder whether a factor is that such tires can be manufactured for less cost elsewhere.

That’s the prevailing judgment expressed as factory jobs are lost in this country, but it’s a trend we’re not likely to see reversed. Nothing lasts forever.

One comment that will pop up in relation to a rough turn of events like this is demands for political leadership.

But people need to keep in mind that private enterprise is just that – private. We’ve been through the exercise in the last couple of years of governments pitching public money at private corporations, and that obviously is not a long-term solution.

In fact, with the Ivany report fresh in mind, one of the cautions raised was that Nova Scotians need to get away from the mindset of counting on government to cure all ills.

Government’s role is to make the province a good place to set up business. Again, with reference to the Ivany report, the positive direction is to focus on learning, on research and development, while trying to identify the jobs of the future and attract them.

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Recent comments

  • sonja tilly
    March 05, 2014 - 15:42

    give it time and it will all be in mexico

  • the shadow
    March 05, 2014 - 13:00

    JLM I frankly can't see that Michelin made a choice based on government funding or lack of. The plant is retaining about 500 staff for Z service , the HQ for Michelin Canada and other functions. The company has invested 500 million into the Bridgewater and Waterville plants in the last decade which had about a ten percent contribution from the taxpayers. The impacts from these layoffs might be 200 people near retirement age get packages and the other 300 relocate to Bridgewater and Waterville. Consider that we had a great 42 yr run for little taxpayer money while bringing billions to our economy it is not such a great tragic event except if you are a municipal politician that has the local Town up to your ears in debt thinking the sitaution will not change.

    • JLM
      March 05, 2014 - 16:05

      Agree wholeheartedly, Shadow. My comment, although perhaps too brief to fully explain, was more pointed at the knee-jerk reactions that the government needs to step in and do something when businesses make their own decisions. I really wasn't trying to imply that Michelin (or any other business) made their choice because of, or lack of, government funding. I also agree that Michelin has done wonders for not only the county but for the rest of Nova Scotia as well, and they do and will treat their employees as best as they can.

  • JLM
    March 04, 2014 - 09:51

    Well said! Reliance on government bailouts/handouts does need to stop. Businesses should succeed or fail on their own merits, not because of some political "looks good on the news" decision.