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Cost cutting at Bowater Mersey puts 80 employees out of work


November 22, 2011
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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It was a close vote, but in the end, 80 workers will lose their jobs at the Bowater Mersey paper mill in Liverpool, N.S., under a new collective agreement put forward by owner Resolute Forest Products (formerly AbitibiBowater). The vote on the…

It was a close vote, but in the end, 80 workers will lose their jobs at the Bowater Mersey paper mill in Liverpool, N.S., under a new collective agreement put forward by owner Resolute Forest Products (formerly AbitibiBowater). The vote on the matter swung in favor of the owner’s demands by only 51%, 104 votes to 97.

“There’ll be tonnes of bitterness,” Courtney Wentzell, president of Local 141 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, told the Chronicle Herald newspaper. The CEP union represents 155 of the 222 unionized workers at the Queens County paper mill.

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Bowater Mersey operates two paper machines, with a capacity of 250,000 t/y of newsprint.

Resolute Forest Products has stated its intention “to reduce labour costs to $80 per tonne from $97, and to trim manufacturing costs, which include an energy cost reduction from Nova Scotia Power, to $480 per tonne from $537 by Jan. 1,” the Chronicle Herald reported on Nov. 14.

According to the newspaper, the new collective agreement cuts 80 positions, freezes wages until 2016, and reduces benefits. Severance packages will be offered, equal to one-and-one-half week’s salary for every year of service.

Wentzell says the union did not make a counter offer, operating under the impression that Resolute’s proposed collective agreement was an ultimatum.