At least 49 NTCL employees facing temporary layoff notices Friday

NTCL vessels prepare to travel along the Mackenzie River. (Supplied by NTCL.)
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At least 49 people working with Northern Transportation Company Limited (NTCL) will be issued temporary layoff notices Friday.

That’s according to the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees, one of three unions that represent NTCL employees.

The financially troubled company is currently under creditor protection and looking to sell off some of its assets in an effort to deal with massive debt.

Earlier this month, the company began the process of selling off non-essential barges and property in Hay River.

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On Wednesday, NTCL warned employees temporary layoff notices would be issued later in the week and that there wouldn’t be work for them as of Sept. 2.

“They are not permanent layoffs at this time,” said Teresa Eschuk, regional vice-president of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees. “They are just regular seasonal layoffs.”

Eschuk’s union represents 49 current employees of NTCL, the majority of whom live in Hay River.

The Canadian Merchant Service Guild and Seafarers’ International Union of Canada also represent NTCL employees.

Eschuk says it’s too early to tell if workers will be brought back on next season.

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“We do know that the assets are up for sale,” she said. “We do know that no one has come forth wanting to buy the entity as a whole so they’re looking at selling it off piece by piece.

“For as long as I’ve been in my position which is seven years, and even before that, the company has been in some financial difficulty and obviously they couldn’t overcome that.

“We don’t know what it’s going to look like next year. We may or may not have succession rates for our members there.”

Earlier this summer, the GNWT cut short a $110 million contract with NTCL to sealift bulk fuel to several marine-supplied communities amid concerns the company was looking to get out of the marine shipping business.

Once summer deliveries along the Mackenzie River are done, the company’s current contract – which was supposed to last until late 2019 — will come to an end.

NTCL’s sealift season on the Mackenzie typically lasts until the end of September. The company has been operating on the waterway for nearly 80 years.

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