Pulp and Paper Canada

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Merger a smoking gun?


February 1, 2007
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Despite Seth Kursman’s claim that the reception has been positive, not everyone is pleased with the impending merge…

Despite Seth Kursman’s claim that the reception has been positive, not everyone is pleased with the impending merger of forestry giants Abitibi-Consolidated and Bowater.

“I don’t want to speak for others, but I think from what we’ve heard personally, the reception is quite positive among the business community and people see that this is the right action at the right time,” The Telegram reported Kursman, vice-president of communications and government affairs for Abitibi-Consolidated as saying.

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Those ‘others’ include the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, who says the merger should be setting off some serious alarm bells.

“This announcement is yet one more reason for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to immediately convene a national summit of all stakeholders to discuss the future of the forestry sector,” CEP president Dave Coles said. “There are many issues underlying this announced merger which should raise alarm bells in Ottawa. Our forest-based industries and communities are already in crisis with the loss of some 10,000 jobs over the past few years.”

Coles expressed concern with the proposed ‘synergies’ that the two companies touted as one of the many benefits to the merger. “Our history with mergers has been that so-called ‘synergies’ really mean more mill closures, job losses and devastation in our communities. We intend to meet with these companies to avoid a repeat of that history. We intend to fight for investment in the sector to save and expand jobs.”

To date, neither Abitibi nor Bowater have communicated a clear intent to close mills. However, concern has been raised over the future of several facilities, in particular Grand-Falls Windsor, which is slated for a $10 million cash-cutting process.

“We are still operating as separate companies and we still have a series of challenges at Grand Falls-Windsor and none of that changes as a result of the announcement,” The Telegram reported Kursman as saying.


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