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Union to reopen talks with AbitibiBowater


December 12, 2007
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Montreal, QC After a two-day meeting in Montreal last week, officials of the Communication, Energy and Paperworker…

Montreal, QC After a two-day meeting in Montreal last week, officials of the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union have said that they will reopen collective agreements with AbitibiBowater in an effort to find solutions for the company’s current crisis. The meeting of 100 paperworkers, organized by the CEP, brought together about 35 AbitibiBowater CEP locals from 17 pulp and paper mills into a single caucus to discuss the question.

The union believes that there are ways to cut costs that dont involve cuts to wages and benefits. “There’s a lot of things that can be done besides taking money out of somebody’s pocket,” president David Coles told the Fort Frances Times, mentioning early retirements, changes to older work practices, and improving systems that impede productivity as alternatives. But he noted: “Everything is on the table.”

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The union hopes that, by heading to the bargaining table a year earlier than scheduled, it will set an industry-wide pattern to help forestry in Canada.

AbitibiBowater reacted positively to the news. “We see it as a first step and were pleased to have this willingness to discuss confirmed and well see how it goes,” said Jean-Philippe Cote. Two weeks ago, the company had announced Phase 1 of their program to address the current challenges, a plan that included numerous shutdowns and indefinite closures. The plan also included a request to unions to reopen labour contracts.

Source: Fort Frances Times, Dec. 7, 2007


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