Wednesday, December 19, 2007


UPM Kymmene announced Tuesday that it would permanently close its Miramichi paper mill in New Brunswick, Canada. The move will cost more than 500 people their jobs. The workers were actually laid off last August in what was then described as a temporary move.

It's temporary no longer.

The Duluth News reports the Miramichi mill closing was part of a larger announcement of reduction in production capacity by the Finnish paper giant that includes temporary and permanent closings in Finland, Austria and Australia.

With the company's announcement that the mill will be closed permanently, many workers say they have little choice but to go out west.

"I'm at the age — too old to move, I'll just commute. Find work here if I can, but not much chance of that," Kendall Hubbard told CBC News. He's already working in the Alberta tar sands.

"Twenty and eights. I go out for 20 days and back for eight. They fly me home every 20 days," Hubbard said.

Chris Allison, president of Local 689 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, told the Telegraph-Journal (Canada) he wasn't surprised by the permanent closure announcement.

"I'm not surprised ... not one bit, UPM wanted to shut down in the first place," he said.

The provincial government should "kick" UPM out of the province and find a new owner for the Miramichi mills, he said.

"Those mills are still viable, they can still make money," he said. "That's why UPM doesn't want to sell them, it wants to dismantle them."

And the problem isn't just this one mill.

In November, AbitibiBowater Inc. permanently closed the paper mill that had been in operation in Dalhousie since the 1920s. It left 330 people out of work.

In fact, of 85 mills that were running in the province in 1995, only 16 are fully operational today. The others have permanently or temporarily closed or are running at reduced capacity.

The following, I must admit, is from Forbes.

Canada: Former Mill Workers Protest

MIRAMICHI, New Brunswick - Recently laid-off mill workers in northern New Brunswick want the provincial government to expropriate the UPM paper mill in Miramichi and stop the company from cutting wood off Crown land.

About 150 former employees of the mill marched through the streets of Miramichi Wednesday, and plan to meet later with Premier Shawn Graham.

Some 540 people lost their jobs Monday, when UPM officials announced the mill would be closed permanently.

The company said the high value of the Canadian dollar has hurt exports and made the mill unprofitable.

UPM officials, who plan to remove the mill's equipment, refuse to sell to a competitor because they say there is a glut of product on the market.

Chris Allison, local president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, said the company is being hypocritical because it is still cutting wood from Crown land and selling it to competitors.

No comments: