Quebec mill workers ask for government intervention in dispute

Union rejects company’s final offer by 91 per cent

The union representing workers at a Quebec pulp mill owned by White Birch Paper is asking the Ministry of Labour to conduct a special intervention to bring the company back to the bargaining table.

UPDATE: White Birch Paper closes Quebec pulp mill Stadacona

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. The union said it believes the shutdown is a lockout “in disguise.”

The union issued a notice on Jan. 11, 2012 saying the 600 workers at the American-owned paper mill voted 91 per cent to reject what the company was calling its final offer.

The company had threatened to close down the plant if the offer wasn’t accepted.

The concessions requested by the company were too much for the employees to accept, said Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) Union-Quebec vice-president Renaud Gagné.

The most recent 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.

Currently in creditor protection, White Birch says concessions need to be made by the union in order to sustain the operations of the plant.

"Without significant reductions in salaries, pension benefits and other costs, Stadacona simply cannot survive," White Birch president Chris Brant said in a statement.

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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