Powell River paper mill closes indefinitely, more than 200 workers affected – .

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Powell River paper mill closes indefinitely, more than 200 workers affected – .


Paper Excellence is shutting down its Powell River paper mill indefinitely, impacting more than 200 mill workers and others in the product supply chain.
Catalyst Paper’s tiskwat plant, which has been producing paper for over 100 years, has had a difficult year.

It was temporarily closed at the start of the pandemic. When it restarted operations this spring, only half of its machines were working and only about 200 of the more than 320 workers who had lost their jobs were able to return.

In a press release, Paper Excellence said the plant was no longer financially viable.

“The continued contraction of global paper markets and paper prices, particularly in Asia, creates continued significant financial losses at the mill,” reads.

“Despite the best efforts of the team of dedicated plant employees, the facility is simply not viable in the reality of today’s market conditions. “

Unifor Local 76 president Bill Spence said the news was not surprising, but still a shock.

“It’s one thing to see the train coming at you, it’s another to see it hit you,” Spence said on CBC. All points to the west.

Spence says workers will have full-time jobs until Jan.31, mainly to clean up the plant and preserve assets. After that, they will either have to go to employment insurance or look for a new job. Severance pay, in accordance with the collective agreement, will not be paid until the company decides that the closure is permanent.

Some of the workers may travel to Paper Excellence’s other operations in Crofton and Port Alberni; others may have to move elsewhere.

“There are a few jobs in Powell River, but they’re scarce,” Spence said. “So it’s difficult. They will probably have to leave to find work or to commute. “

New business a possibility

Powell River Mayor Dave Formosa said it was a very sad day for the city.

“My father worked in this factory. I worked in this factory. My brothers worked in this factory. My uncles were all working in this factory when they immigrated from Malta, ”Formosa told CBC. On the island.

” It’s sad. Very sad. “

However, Formosa said he was optimistic that a replacement could be found for the site – noting that the city has electricity, water, a deep-water port and buildings that can be upgraded. A promising candidate has emerged in Renewable Hydrogen Canada, he said.

“We are delighted with this. We know the province has worked hard with this group, as has Catalyst, ”Formosa said.

“If things could move quickly, maybe we could keep some of these people here in Powell River. “

For Spence, any opportunity would be welcomed by his members – but he hasn’t heard anything concrete yet.

“The people of Powell River are resilient. We will make whatever products they want. People want to stay here and work and if there is an opportunity to make a new product in a new company, we are all for that, ”he said.

“But to be honest, we haven’t had any discussions with anyone about it. Hope it’s the truth, but you never know until you actually find out. “

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