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Catalyst Paper clears hurdle: both Crofton unions approve deal


March 19, 2012
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Both union locals at Catalyst Paper’s Crofton mill have voted in favor of a new contract. Members of the Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada local at Crofton turned down a previous contract proposal in January, and forced Catalyst Paper…

Both union locals at Catalyst Paper’s Crofton mill have voted in favor of a new contract. Members of the Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada local at Crofton turned down a previous contract proposal in January, and forced Catalyst Paper into creditor protection.

The current vote in favor of the collective agreement allows the papermaker to proceed with a restructuring plan and work toward exiting creditor protection. Had all the unions not approved the deal, Catalyst Paper had said it would proceed with a sale process.

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The company now has new labour agreements with unions representing more than 1,000 paper and pulp workers at its Crofton, Port Alberni and Powell River mills.

“Approval of the new labour agreements lets everyone know that the people who make up Catalyst are taking the actions necessary to save jobs and ensure we have a viable and competitive business for the future,” said Kevin J. Clarke, president and CEO. “We appreciate there is still an enormous amount of work to do to complete the restructuring plan that will enable the company to exit creditor protection on solid footing going forward.”

The agreements, which will be effective from May 1, 2012 to April 30, 2017, include a 10% reduction in hourly rates along with various adjustments to vacation, health benefits and work rules necessary to provide Catalyst with a competitive labour cost structure.  The agreements also maintain hourly retiree health benefits. Annual savings in the range of $18 to $20 million are expected.

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) locals 1, 76, 592, 686 and 1132 represent 700 employees at the three mills; the Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers Union of Canada (PPWC) local 2 represents approximately 380 employees at the Crofton pulp mill.

According to a local news site, HQcowichanvalley.com, the president of CEP Local 1132, Fraser McQuarrie, said a majority of union members consider their contract the lesser of two evils–better than having the mill sold to a new owner with an uncertain future.

Catalyst Paper manufactures diverse specialty mechanical printing papers, newsprint and pulp.


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