A fresh start
February 1, 2001 By Pulp & Paper Canada
When Norske Skogindustrier ASA of Norway bought the worldwide pulp and paper assets of Fletcher Challenge Ltd. of New Zealand for $2.5-billion (US) in July 2000, it gained 50.8% control of Vancouver-b…
When Norske Skogindustrier ASA of Norway bought the worldwide pulp and paper assets of Fletcher Challenge Ltd. of New Zealand for $2.5-billion (US) in July 2000, it gained 50.8% control of Vancouver-based Fletcher Challenge Canada Ltd. It also gained something it perhaps had not bargained for: a company that has had labor unrest at its three BC pulp mills — in Crofton, Mackenzie and Campbell River.
For example, in July 1997, the mills’ 2100 employees began a nine-month strike over issues of flexible work practices and pay increases. Although that strike was eventually settled through the use of a provincial mediator, it left bitter feelings between Fletcher Challenge Canada (FCC) and its two unions, one of them the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP). “The Fletcher Challenge experience in Canada was particularly destructive for labor relations at these mills,” says Fred Wilson, national representative of the CEP in Vancouver.
That being said, it’s not surprising that the mills’ new ownership heartens unions like the CEP. “It’s a different atmosphere,” Wilson notes. “Norske Skog is at least making an effort to get a new start.”
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