US: Seventy laid off at NatureSweet

NatureSweet, Ltd., last month laid off 70, leaving 700 total employees at its Willcox facility. CEO Bryant Ambelang said that this latest reduction in force (RIF) occurred in the management and supervisory positions.

He told the Range News that there were not any layoffs among the workers in the greenhouses.

Ambelang said that last month’s layoffs resulted from asking the question, “How many management positions do we need for our planting program, and what is the number of people we need to fulfil that?”

“We are at that number,” with about 700 currently employed, and 60 prison inmates still working, at the Willcox facility, he said.

Asked how the tomato plants were going to be monitored, given the fact that managers and supervisors were laid off, Ambelang replied, “NatureSweet’s management is aligned to the types of crops we are now growing and the capacity we are utilizing.”

Acknowledging that in terms of layoffs, “even one is too many,” Ambelang said, “These are people’s lives. I wish we had known back in April (2013).”

That RIF constituted about 65 people out of 800 total, not including the prison inmates.

EuroFresh had about 400 inmates working for them, with harvesting as their major activity.

Ambelang said at the time that NatureSweet was looking at reducing the amount of inmate labour being used at the facility.

“I realize that it is a way for the inmates to learn skills and earn a little bit of money. And it helps them get better acclimated before they leave the prison system,” he told the Range News.

Click here for the complete article at Wilcox Range News

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