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Kruger withdraws from Corner Brook mill negotiations

Deadline to reach a collective agreement extended to June 22.


June 18, 2012
by CANADIAN PRESS

CORNER BROOK, NL: Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier has expressed renewed concern after negotiations between a newsprint mill and its employees broke off late on June 15.

In a statement issued June 16, Premier Kathy Dunderdale urged the Corner Brook Pulp and Paper mill and its workers to continue to work towards an agreement.

Dunderdale said she remains “extremely concerned” about the future of the mill, but said the government will continue its support once labour and pension issues are resolved and a long-term plan for the operation is in place.

“We all have the same goal here – that Corner Brook Pulp and Paper remain a key employer and driver of economic growth for the western region and our province,” said Dunderdale in a statement.

Kruger Inc., the Montreal-based company that owns the mill, said in a news release that it left the bargaining table without reaching an agreement with the unions before the deadline of June 15 at midnight.

Kruger said the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union agreed to hold a vote during week on the company’s final proposal.

As a result, Kruger said it has extended the deadline to reach a collective agreement to June 22, saying “the future of the Corner Brook Mill is now in the hands of its employees.”

The restructuring of the company’s pension policy has been a stumbling block in the negotiations. Kruger wants more time to pay back its pension deficit because the mill is on the verge of bankruptcy.

In May, unionized workers at the mill rejected the company’s proposal to repay a pension deficit over 10 years instead of the normal period of five years.

Corner Brook Pulp and Paper is the last paper mill to continue operating in Newfoundland after a series of shutdowns in other communities in recent years.

© 2012 The Canadian Press