Profiles: Lorne Bantle worked at Celanese for 18 years before it shut down in early 2007. He was a machinist who worked on milling machines. Engineers would design apparatuses that didn’t work in practice, and Bantle and other machinists had to produce working prototypes. While Bantle found the work of a machinist somewhat isolating, he enjoyed working with all of the tradespeople in the plant and overall found working conditions excellent until the last owners took over about five years before the plant shut down. The new owners kept laying people off and closing down various parts of the plant, but denied that they were in the process of shutting the whole plant down. Bantle, like many others, was sure that they were lying. When the plant closed, he was reasonably well off financially but still wanted to work. He was shocked to find, as a committed if inactive unionist, that some Alberta employers were unwilling to hire anyone who had worked in a union environment before because unionists expected management to be something more than slave drivers.
Dwight Krislock worked as a machinist at Celanese for over 25 years, repairing valves and upgrading products such as those involved in the profitable cigarette filter manufacturing work of the company. He notes that in the period before computing programs became common in machine work that machinists required a great deal of manual skills to do precision work. In his view, the final owners of the company wanted to close down in Alberta before they were ordered by an Alberta government to clean up the extensive contamination of land and water that Celanese was responsible for. Krislock had been in the labour force for 36 years when Celanese shuttered the plant. But he could not afford to retire and was in the process of looking for work at the time of the interview.
Keywords: Celanese and environment; Celanese and health and safety; Celanese plant closure; Celanese and skilled trades; Celanese working conditions; Machinists.
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See also: Celanese