August 30, 2023 By Sukanya Ray Ghosh
Paper Excellence’s Crofton Mill restart, scheduled for end of August, has been delayed by at least another 30 days. Unifor states that this news has left the mill workers and their families in a tough situation.
“A few months ago, the company stood beside federal and provincial government representatives to announce nearly $70 million in combined investments for the Crofton mill and it is beyond disappointing that a restart is being delayed yet again,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “I urge the company to set a reasonable timeline for a restart and commit to it for the sake of the workers and their families.”
The company advised members that the current plan is to restart production at the kraft mill and the paper mill at the end of September, contingent on the ‘recovery of market prices for its paper products’ – a target that was not clearly defined, says Unifor. This is the third time Paper Excellence has announced a shutdown extension since May 2023, when a 30-day curtailment was planned.
“The last thing forestry workers need right now is more uncertainty,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director and advocate on the B.C. Forestry Worker Support and Community Resiliency Council. “Our members need to know when they’ll be back on the job. Workers don’t have the luxury of curtailing their bills.”
McGarrigle attended the January 2023 funding announcement that was supposed to mark a turning point for the forestry sector in B.C. and recall 100 workers to the Vancouver Island mill.
Unifor has advocated for a progressive plan for the forestry sector in B.C. and welcomed the Eby government’s announcement in February 2023 to double the B.C. Manufacturing Jobs Fund and couple the investment with a commitment to protect old growth forests and a full partnership with First Nations.
“Forestry workers are used to challenges, but I think what we need right now is some clarity,” said Tanner McQuarrie, president of Unifor Local 1132. “We have a young, committed workforce that believes in forestry in this province. Crofton has the infrastructure and potential to be a successful plant for decades to come, so we want to see young families stay in the community knowing that their futures can start now.”
Unifor Local 1132 represents 91 workers at the Paper Excellence facility in Crofton.
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