White Birch Paper to meet with Quebec workers’ union

Government intervention leads to two weeks of negotiations

The owners of a Quebec pulp mill who announced the permanent shut down the plant last week will meet with its unionized employees to find a way to reopen the mill, according to a union press release.

The decision is welcome news to the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) Union-Quebec, who represent the mill’s workers.

The Quebec government decided to intervene in the dispute after the mill’s 600 workers were laid off as a result of the closure. White Birch president Christopher Brant met with Quebec Economic Development Minister Sam Hamad on Jan. 16 to discuss options.

The company will negotiate with the union for two weeks, Harold Fortin, spokesman for Hamad, told the Canadian Press.

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 union voted 91 per cent to reject the company’s final offer and the plant closed on Jan 12.

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 discussions will also center on White Birch’s two other Quebec mills.

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