Job losses at IMW hitting Chilliwack families hard

Staff cuts at IMW were confirmed by parent company, Clean Energy Fuels but they wouldn't give the exact number of layoffs.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper tours IMW Industries in August 2014

Prime Minister Stephen Harper tours IMW Industries in August 2014

At least one of the employees let go recently by IMW Industries of Chilliwack is having a tough go of it.

Jeff Baker, who asked that his real name not to be used, was one of several workers laid off suddenly on Feb. 11 from the global manufacturing company that specializes in CNG compressors and fuelling equipment.

He loved his job, and he and some other local families are having a tough go of it in the wake of the news.

“Between this and (the closing of the) Target store, Chilliwack is going to be full of unemployed people hitting the job boards,” Baker said.

“I just recently got this job, which I was planning on having as a career.”

Many of Chilliwack families were relying on the skilled IMW jobs.

Losing so many jobs, and he was told the number was 85, is “a bit extreme” in such a relatively small town.

“Sure, there were a lot of younger workers who were just working a job, but those of us who have families to care for are going to be severely crippled trying to compete on the market now.”

He’s now working on getting re-certified in equipment operating skills, and hopes to find work soon.

It might have helped if there’d been a little more warning or some help for transitioning the workers before the sudden layoffs, he said.

“Searching the job boards over the last couple days, I found it very upsetting that they still have many open job postings online as well, including one posted on the same day as we were laid off.”

It looks bad, he says, even if they were legally within their rights to lay off workers that hadn’t yet passed probation.

Some of the record of employment documents indicate the workers “dismissals within probation period” versus a reason like “shortage of work.”

“This, I believe, makes each of us look bad, and does not reflect the truth of the matter. There was no work. I am not sure, but I believe this will impact those of us who would have been eligible for EI as well.”

His understanding is layoffs were across the board.

“Every department felt the cuts. Machinists, welders, electricians, and painters were all affected. From what I have heard, it was every employee hired in the last six months that was let go.

“Some even that had passed their probation period were let go.”

He underlined he is not trying to a martyr or a hero by telling his story. He loved his job and was very sorry to lose it.

Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz said the IMW job losses were “very unfortunate” for Chilliwack, and the number she was quoted was about 90 jobs lost.

“Some things are outside our control, and this is very unfortunate,” she said.

City and CEPCO officials are still working hard to bring businesses and employers to town, and to work on business retention, Gaetz said.

She remembered the devastating losses in 1997 when CFB Chilliwack shut down.

“We lost an entire base and we struggled for a couple of years as a result. “I hope we will quickly recover from this, and people will quickly regain their footing.”

Staff cuts to the local workforce at IMW were confirmed by IMW’s parent company, Clean Energy Fuels. But the corporate spokesperson did not put an exact figure to the number of jobs lost in Chilliwack, in a brief statement sent to The Progress almost two weeks ago.

Clean Energy officials stated in a followup that they were not required to disclose the job loss total.

The number of IMW layoffs was below the total required by law to report publicly, which is 50, said a company spokesman for Clean Energy Fuels. The total is also below the figures being quoted by others in this story, which ranged from 85 to 92, he said.

Rising demand for CNG equipment worldwide led the IMW workforce to be doubled in size in 2014 to almost 300 jobs compared to 2012. “Cyclical fluctuations” in manufacturing and weak global markets are the reasons for the layoffs, according to Clean Energy reps.

However “growing demand” for IMW compressors, technology and equipment is still strong around the world, they said.

IMW is a wholly owned subsidiary of Clean Energy Fuels, manufacturing gas compressors, dispensers, storage systems, and control systems from the facility on Progress Way. The CNG fuelling systems are designed for public, truck and fleet fuelling stations and more.

Just Posted

A student prepares to throw a plate full of whipped cream at principal Jim Egdcombe’s face as vice principal Devin Atkins watches as part of a fundraiser at Leary Integrated Arts and Technology elementary on Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
The pied principals: Chilliwack elementary staff get messy for charity

Cops for Cancer fundraiser saw kids ‘pie the principal’ at Leary elementary in Chilliwack

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Chilliwack drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

Jordyn Huitema plays for the Canadian national women’s soccer team. (Soccer Canada photos)
Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema and Canada battle Czechs to 0-0 draw

Huitema’s national women’s soccer squad played a friendly match against the Czechs in Spain

Hutch Hotels Ltd., which owned the former Alder Inn (which was demolished in November 2020), is among the defendants in a lawsuit related to an alleged impaired-driving crash in January 2017. The civil suit also names S & L Kitchen and Bar in Abbotsford. (Black Press file photo)
Two Fraser Valley bars named in lawsuit related to alleged impaired-driving crash

S & L Abbotsford and Alder Inn being sued by passenger in 2017 rollover collision

How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 13 to 19

Flag Day, Garbage Man Day, International Panic Day all coming up this week

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Lorraine Gibson, 90, received a COVID-19 immunization at the South Surrey Park and Ride vaccination clinic. (File photo: Aaron Hinks)
Surrey has had 25% of B.C.’s total COVID-19 cases

Surrey recorded 4,012 cases in May

Most Read