[NEW GLASGOW, NS] — Steve Boudreau knows the future looks bleak for Maritime Steel, but it doesn’t stop him from trying to save a job that he has done for 16 years.
With two lawn chairs set up beside his van in a vacant lot near the foundry, the 47-year-old Westville resident said he would rather be inside the plant working than outside hosting a information picket, but it’s better than sitting at home depressed.
“I came here to see what kind of response I would get and the response from New Glasgow residents has been good,” he said as he waves to passing motorists who beep their horns in support of his picket. “I don’t want to give up. We need these jobs.”
As he waited for a truck to arrive at the foundry and haul away the last pieces of an order, Boudreau said something has to be done soon to save the plant.
“My funds are getting low,” he said. “I have a gas can in the back of my van now and I applied for (employment insurance) a month ago and I haven’t seen anything yet. I am going to keep pushing. I am not the only one.”
Maritime Steel shut down a few weeks ago after it finished up its last order. The foundry’s owner, Abbas Jarfarnia, said in the past that he needs money to purchase the materials to fill the orders, but the provincial government or banks won’t provide him with a loan. The province said that Jafarnia doesn’t have a viable business plan and it is unable make a loan because of this. Boudreau said he is hosting the picket to let people know there are good jobs at the plant worth fighting for and, he hopes, to persuade local politicians to take another look at the situation.
“We are trying to get through to Ross (Landry),” he said. “We aren’t politicians, we are just hard workers and we are learning as we go.”
Based on his work history in the plant, Boudreau said he believes it a viable business that can employ people for years to come, but he also heard from people who hope it never opens again.
“If (Jafarnia) had $500,000 in the bank, we would be working,” Boudreau said. “We would like to have a meeting with Landry to see if see if we can get some things moving.”
Boudreau said the picket has allowed people both in favour and against the foundry to voice their opinion and he is open to listening to both sides of the story.
“I see it as viable, but the town doesn’t want the pollution,” he said. “I understand the people not wanting it here, but we could fill those contracts."