(Submitted photo)

UPDATE: Half Dozen Workers Laid Off At Dresden Slots

Layoff notices have been handed out at Gateway Casinos in Dresden.

Unifor officials say six positions are being eliminated at the casino and they are claiming the job losses are a direct result of the privatization of Ontario’s gaming operations.

“Gateway’s decision to reduce the hours of operation at most of its Ontario casinos is a perfect example of why Unifor was against the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) modernization plan all along,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias in a news release. “Unifor stated all along that the sale of a crown corporation and its operations will negatively affect workers and good jobs in Ontario, and Gateway is doing just that.”

The layoffs in Dresden are part of a province-wide move by Gateway Casinos, which includes seven layoffs at the casino in Sudbury and six layoffs at Gateway Casino Point Edward.

Unifor officials say they will be working with the company in all three of the affected locations to prevent any further job losses.

“We’ll be talking with the employer and union members to discuss a variety of options to save good jobs and support workers and their families,” said Richard Paquin, a national representative who is working with Local 598 in Sudbury. “If we’re successful, fewer workers will be laid off because no worker should have to pay the price of job loss resulting from privatization.”

When OLG allowed Gateway to take over the operations at the slots in Dresden, the company was required to “retain employees for a period of no less than 12 months in their current position and geographic location.” For most of Gateway’s new facilities, that one-year obligation ended in May.

There could be some new opportunities coming for the workers, that were laid off, though.

Rob Mitchell, the director of communications and public affairs for Gateway Casinos, says they are working with the employees who were laid off in an effort to find them new jobs within the company.

He says the cuts were necessary because of new investments and upgrades that were made to the existing facility in Dresden once Gateway took over, adding that the company will be looking to hire upwards of 200 new staff when they move their operations to a brand new facility that is being built in Chatham.

Mitchell says the staff who were laid off in Dresden will certainly be considered for a position at the new casino, if they choose to apply.

He expects a ground-breaking ceremony to take place at the planned site of the new facility at Richmond St. and Keil Dr. in the “next few weeks.”