Canadian lawmaker criticizes Celadon’s handling of Hyndman closure

A Canadian lawmaker criticized Celadon Group’s abrupt closure of Hyndman Transport, calling it a “footnote in their thought process.”

Byran May, a Liberal federal member of Parliament whose Ontario district includes Hyndman, told FreightWaves he found the reports of drivers being stranded and the timing of the closure particularly troubling.

“You would have hoped there was a thought given to these drivers who are out of work just before Christmas,” May said. “It should have been handled differently.”

Hyndman Transport closed on Dec. 9 as Celadon Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States. There was no warning — and drivers, including those in the U.S. — had to race back to Hyndman facilities.

“It was definitely jarring,” May said.

Other Canadian carriers have been aggressively courting Hyndman drivers. May encouraged drivers and other employees to apply for federal unemployment benefits even if they expect to be working soon.

“Even if they think they will get a job right away, they should still get the ball rolling,” May said.

May encouraged those affected by the closure to contact his office for assistance with unemployment or other government resources.

May’s counterparts in the province and local government in North Dumfries have also been working to assist those who lost their jobs at Hyndman.

Drivers, owner-operators and other staff received their final paychecks last week. But many issues remain, including outstanding vacation pay.

“My hope is that everyone gets what they’re entitled to,” May said.

Under Canadian federal law, former employees are entitled to make priority claims for any back pay or vacation pay in bankruptcy proceedings. They can also apply for reimbursement under a federal program.

As of Dec. 16, Celadon did not appear to have made a bankruptcy filing in Canada or to have applied to have the U.S. proceedings recognized. Either could be forthcoming, along with the appointment of a trustee.

May noted that a trustee would make it easier for his office and other government entities to assist former Hydnman drivers and staff.