Tolko calls for help in The Pas
January 17, 2006 By Pulp & Paper Canada
Tolko Industries has put out a three-pronged request to keep its sawmill in northern Manitoba up and running. The c…
Tolko Industries has put out a three-pronged request to keep its sawmill in northern Manitoba up and running. The company has confirmed that if it doesn’t secure financial assistance from its employees, the town and the provincial government, the facility will close, throwing 227 people out of work in the process.
“The operation in The Pas has been financially challenging since we acquired it in 1997,” Tolko spokesperson Sheila Catlin said. “It’s been exacerbated by some industry-wide issues, the continuing strength of the dollar, the softwood lumber dispute and escalating energy costs.”
Should the mill be forced to shut down, the ramifications on the 5,800 resident town would be far-reaching in their devastation. “This is our major employer,” said mayor Gary Hopper. “This would be devastating to those directly affected and those indirectly affected. A lot of businesses in town derive a good portion of their revenue from doing business with Tolko.”
Tolko has set a January 20 deadline. If a deal has not been reached by then, on April 19, the mill will close.
The time restriction has the company, the town and workers represented by the United Steelworkers of America, scrambling to come up with a solution that would slash the mill’s costs. “We have been willing to explore every option there is, including wage concessions,” said local union president Chris Parlow.
The town is currently trying to accommodate the company’s request for a 50% cut in property taxes. The provincial government has not revealed any details about what it intends to offer the mill.
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