MELVILLE, Sask. — Ontario-based power equipment manufacturer Babcock & Wilcox Canada is laying off more than half the 80 people working at a plant in Saskatchewan.
The layoffs, affecting 48 people in mid-January, were attributed to lower demand for the plant's products and increased competition.
''We are unable to maintain the current workforce in Melville with our existing projects alone,'' Mike Lees, president of Babcock & Wilcox Canada, said in a news release.
''The declining workload at Melville has been a recent trend and is likely to continue in the near term.''
Melville Mayor Walter Streelasky said he considered the layoffs ''devastating.''
''It's most unfortunate ... We hope that we can keep these people in our community.''
Colin Dales, a shop steward at the Melville plant, said he is one of the people who will be laid off.
''We kind of knew it was coming with what the workload was here,'' Dales said. ''We didn't think it would be this bad of a job cut.''
The Melville plant continues to handle much of the current upgrading work that SaskPower is doing on its coal-fuelled power generation plants in the southern part of the province, the company said.
Lees said the company intends to keep the Melville plant and hopes to increase its workforce again if future product lines can be directed to that location.
Dales said the fact that the layoff isn't until January lessens the blow and the feeling is there are other jobs to be had in the area. The company's hope that it will one day increase the workforce, possibly as early as mid-2008, is also reason for optimism, he said.
''I'm kind of down,'' he said. ''But hopefully, in the future, with the new things they are talking about bringing here, hopefully we'll get back up to our regular work force.''
Streelasky also was optimistic the plant will restructure and increase staff in the future.