800 employees heading back to XL Foods plant

By Bryan Weismiller, Calgary Herald October 14, 2012

BROOKS — Roughly 800 employees from the shuttered meat-packing plant in Brooks have been told to report to work on Tuesday.

The announcement comes one day after XL Foods Inc. officials temporarily laid off more than 80 per cent of the plant’s 2,400 employees and effectively aborted its bid to fully reopen the massive slaughterhouse.

Alberta Agriculture Minister Verlyn Olson told reporters in Brooks that “A shift” workers would be back at Lakeside Packers to finish processing the carcasses that federal inspectors had already cleared.

“The layoffs troubled us greatly because it could get in the way of the re-certification of the plant,” Olson said Sunday.

“XL tells us it’s a temporary layoff,” he said. “I’m taking them at their word.”

In a statement released Sunday, co-CEO Brian Nilsson said XL Foods looks “forward to actively working with the CFIA to bring this to a viable and timely resolution to allow the plant to recommence operations.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency had said Saturday that following the mass temporary layoff it was unable to finish reviewing the plant at the centre of an e. coli contamination scare that has sickened 15 and led to massive product recalls in Canada an the United States.

The agency had pulled XL’s operating on Sept. 27 after tainted beef was found at the U.S. border weeks earlier.

Meanwhile, Brooks Mayor Martin Sheilds said the town has been caught in a “private little feud” between XL Foods and federal food inspectors.

“We’ve been on the sidelines,” he said.

“Those guys out there— I would take them, put them all in a room, lock the door (and) say ‘get it sorted out.’ Because that’s how innocent bystanders are getting hurt.”

Since Sept. 16, more than 1,800 XL Foods products have been recalled across the country in what is now Canada’s largest beef recall.

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Original source article: 800 employees heading back to XL Foods plant