170 layoffs at maker of oilpatch housing: Slowdown, oilsands delays blamed

The economic downturn in the energy sector claimed another 170 jobs Monday at two Edmonton-area plants.

PTI Group Inc. laid off workers at its west-Edmonton and Nisku locations, said Ken MacLean, director of marketing and communications.

The plants produce workforce accommodations for use in remote sites and normally employ a total of 500 people, he said. They were employed at two divisions of the company -- PTI Noble Structures and PTI Travco Modular Structures.

The reason for the layoffs is "no mystery," he said, citing a slowdown in the oilpatch and project cancellations in the oilsands.

"As those projects scale back, unfortunately, we have to respond with a balancing of our own staffing complement to meet the needs of the market," MacLean said.

"It is amazing how a few short months ago we -- as well as other companies -- were really hard-pressed to find the labour complement that would meet the demand of the market," he said. "Unfortunately in the last few months, with the downturn in the economy and its effect on the industry, it certainly has had a reverse effect."

MacLean said the company is tapping into government programs to help workers find new jobs.

"The bottom line is, eventually we understand there will be a turn in the market and we will want these people back again," he said.

News of the layoffs comes as the Alberta Federation of Labour prepares to release a new report today on the employment implications of the recent collapse in oilsands investment.

"There's a sense out there that everything will return to business as usual in the oilsands once the recession ends," AFL president Gil McGowan said in a news release.

"But we clearly can't make those kinds of assumptions.

"Our report is a wake-up call for the Alberta government and everyone else who is concerned about the future of our province's economy and labour market."

Edmonton Journal, Tues Mar 24 2009

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