Bumble Bee tuna plant closure at Mayaguez contributes to put an end to the tuna industry in Puerto Rico. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Bumble Bee closes tuna plant
Wednesday, May 02, 2012, 22:50 (GMT + 9)
Bumble Bee announced the closure of the tuna packing plant located in Mayagüez, a decision that will make 181 direct employees and 80 temporary ones redundant.
The US company will make the business cessation effective on 30 June. The local factory operations will be transferred to another one that the firm has in California and to several operations by contract.
"We always evaluate our supply network to ensure that operations are managed efficiently and effectively in order to maintain our competitiveness in the global marketplace," said Jan Tharp, senior vice president of operations of Bumble Bee Foods.
"Everybody, employees and management executives, have worked hard over the years to increase the plant efficiency, but the reduction in the volume of production has adversely impacted our costs and, unfortunately, we can not sustain operations in Puerto Rico" the executive said.
While the owners of the firm expressed their appreciation to the employees, and to the central and municipal administration, the parties expressed their disappointment at the closure of the tuna plant.
In this regard, Elí Tilen, manager of economic development of the municipality, stated: "This was the last tuna plant. With this, Bumble Bee contributes to put an end to what was the tuna industry in Mayagüez for over 50 years."
"They allege that because the cost of tuna has risen precipitously and has turned it into a type a food that is no longer cheap. That has led to lower the demand and facilities were left unused," he added, according to El Nuevo Día.
According to government estimates, each job in the manufacturing sector generates from two to three additional positions as part of its business ecosystem so that will affect around 500 people indirectly.
On the other hand, the Secretary for Economic Development, José R. Pérez-Riera, assured the national executive has made efforts to help maintain the operation of Bumble Bee, such as through granting incentives and tax exemptions.
The closing operation process began in 2011, when the company reduced its workforce to 120 jobs due to cheaper labour and the intense competition for tuna globally, La Calle magazine reported.
By Analia Murias