White Birch Paper-owned Quebec pulp mill closes permanently

Company holds true to closure warning after union rejects final offer
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 01/19/2012

The owners of a Quebec pulp mill who indefinitely shut down the plant in December 2011 have announced the factory will close permanently.

UPDATE: White Birch agrees to meet with unionized workers

American-owned White Birch Paper announced in a press release that its Stadacona mill could not re-open after its unionized workers rejected its final offer.

''This decision was not made lightly and we did everything we could to avoid this scenario,” White Birch president Christopher Brant said in a statement. ''The mill's financial situation and the economic deterioration in the newsprint industry mean the end of the road for Stadacona.''

The company didn’t have any intention of bargaining in good faith, according to Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) Union-Quebec vice-president Renaud Gagné, who represents the plant’s 600 workers. He says the company knew the offer they tabled was unacceptable and had made this decision prior to entering negotiations.

White Birch shut down the Stadacona mill indefinitely on Dec. 9, 2011 after the two parties couldn’t come to an agreement on a new contract. When it tabled an offer on Jan. 6, the company said it would be its last and the plant would close if it wasn’t accepted.

The last offer included a wage reduction of 21 per cent and cutbacks to the pension plan, according to the CEP. Gagné says the tabled offer proposed workers over the age of 55 see a 45 per cent decrease in their pension and workers under 55 lose 65 per cent.

The union recently asked the Ministry of Labour to conduct a special intervention to bring the company back to the bargaining table.

White Birch manufactures newsprint, directory paper and paperboard in Canada and the U.S. However, the development of digital publications has lessened demand for paper products in the industry.

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