Pacific West calling back workers to idled NS paper plant

Paper producer will only restart one production line in restructuring bid.

May 18, 2012   by The Canadian Press

POINT TUPPER, N.S. :Workers who worked at an idled paper mill in Cape Breton have started receiving calls informing them if they can expect to be recalled.

Pacific West Commercial Corp. is only planning on restarting the NewPage mill’s supercalendered machine—not the newsprint line—and is slashing the workforce to 229 unionized employees from more than 500.

Last month, the union voted 85.6% in favour of a final contract offer by the Vancouver-based company that includes significant concessions.

Steve MacDougall, the recording secretary with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union local, says it’s been difficult seeing people with years of experience working at the mill receiving notice their days at the Point Tupper factory are over.

Pacific West restructuring manager Marc Dube said they hired a professional group to set up a hiring protocol, and all employees were assessed against it.

When asked what criteria are involved, Dube referred to a Pacific West website where it details the commitments that it wants from its “team members.”

They include a commitment to show up on time for work and to be prepared to work toward achieving the company’s goals, as well as a commitment to meet and exceed company standards and expectations for quality.

A Utility and Review Board hearing into the company’s power rate application has been scheduled for July, and will have to be approved before the mill can reopen.

Dube said the company is also close to an agreement with the province around access to Crown lands.

He says early August is estimated to be the likeliest time that workers would be asked to return to the plant.

©The Canadian press

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