HAMILTON, Ont. (CP) — Labatt Breweries is already stripping equipment from its now-closed Hamilton plant.
After suddenly shutting down the Lakeport brewery in Hamilton last Friday, the foreign-owned beer giant started stripping vats and other material from the plant this week.
Norm Cooper, chairman of the Teamsters local that represented Lakeport workers, was one of about eight workers still in the plant as the dismantling process began.
"We're all pretty ticked that this is happening," Cooper said. "Labatt's isn't interested in doing anything to keep these people employed."
The dismantling of the plant started despite a local campaign to convince the company to leave brewing vats and other equipment behind in the hope another brewer would buy and revive it.
At least three such expressions of interest have been made, but at least one was contingent on getting the building fully equipped.
Labatt has consistently said it needs all salvageable Lakeport equipment for its other operations.
Late in March, Labatt announced it would close the Hamilton plant at the end of this month, but it shuttered the brewery two weeks ahead of schedule.
Craig McInnes, president of Teamsters Local 938, said an offer for the plant was tendered last Tuesday and rejected by the company Thursday.
He would not identify the buyer other than as a "major" American brewer that wanted the plant to make beer for export to the United States.
"I'm told it was a company that could have done the deal, they had the cash and could have turned it around in 30 days," McInnes said. "I just can't get an answer to why Labatt won't sell it."
For Labatt spokesman Jeff Ryan, all talk about potential buyers for the Hamilton plant is speculation.
"There has been a lot of speculation about offers, but we are not entertaining any offers to sell the equipment," he said.
"We are going to use it all within our other Canadian operations."
Ryan added, however, the company is working with the city to find a new user for the Lakeport building — as long as that new user does anything but brew beer.
Labatt has said it will maintain its current lease with the Hamilton Port Authority, which owns the Lakeport building.