A day after it was announced the beleaguered Alberta-based XL Foods would have new management, the union representing the plant’s 2,200 workers said current management needs to be fired.
Doug O’Halloran received cheers from workers at a news conference when he said those who have been running the XL Foods plant at the centre of a massive meat recall should all be let go.
O’Halloran said he is cautiously optimistic about JBS USA taking over the Lakeside plant in Brooks, Alta., and that the United Food and Commercial Workers union has a good relationship with the company in the United States.
The current owners of XL, O’Halloran said, are in over their heads.
XL Foods was shut down after an E. coli outbreak at the plant, temporarily putting almost the entire staff out of work.
JBS USA, an arm of JBS S.A., a Brazilian food-processing giant that has 301 production facilities in 10 countries and employs 135,000 people, will assume responsibility over the daily operations of the beleaguered beef producer.
The agreement gives JBS USA the exclusive opportunity to buy XL Foods packing plants in the U.S. and Canada. This deal would include plants in Calgary, Brooks, Alta., Omaha, Neb., and Nampa, Idaho.
In total, the four plants can handle up to 7,200 head of cattle per day. The deal would also include a feedlot in Brooks and 2,670 hectares of farmland.
“We know full well the commitment it takes to manage world-class operations that produce safe and nutritious products for consumers around the world,” said Bill Rupp, president and chief operating officer of JBS USA.
“We believe our experienced team will prove an invaluable asset in the management of XL Lakeside and we look forward to exploring our options to purchase XL assets in the near future.”
In a brief announcement, Brian Nilsson, co-CEO of XL Foods, addressed the managerial takeover, saying: “This action is another positive step to relicensing the XL Lakeside beef plant in Brooks, Alta. We welcome the assistance of JBS and their resources.”
On Wednesday, Brooks Mayor Martin Shields told The Canadian Press the town is in crisis mode after workers were laid off again while food safety officials reviewed whether the plant could reopen.
If JBS USA decides to buy the assets, it would cost $100 million, 50 per cent of the total price tag in JBS shares and the company won’t take on any of the debt or liabilities associated with XL Foods.
If XL Foods is purchased from its parent company Nilsson Bros. Inc., owned by brothers Brian and Lee Nilsson, it would likely end the company’s run near the top as one of Alberta’s biggest beef producers.
Bought in 1998 for $24 million, XL Foods gave the brothers, who have a long family history of involvement in the cattle industry, a major stake in the beef production industry. With the purchase came not only the XL name, but the trademark Original Alberta Beef.
The purchase made the brothers the third largest beef producer in Alberta, behind only Cargill and IBP, who owned the Lakeside plant in Brooks at the time...
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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