Union at Catalyst Paper's pulp and paper mill in Crofton, British Columbia, reaches tentative labor deal, recommends members accept it in vote expected by Dec. 31; company says it's 'business as usual' despite restructuring

LOS ANGELES , December 28, 2011 () –

Catalyst Paper Corp. reached a tentative labor agreement with union representatives at its pulp and paper mill in Crofton, British Columbia, last week, reported SunFM News on HQCowichanValley.com Dec. 28.

The union will discuss the details of the deal at meetings this week and is recommending that its members ratify the contract, according to an email circulated by Local 76 President Mike Verdiel. Voting is expected to take place by Dec. 31.

Meanwhile, Catalyst Paper continues to operate its “business as usual,” despite its restructuring, said Lyn Brown, VP of marketing and corporate responsibility for the Richmond, British Columbia-based company, reported the Cowichan News Leader on Dec. 23.

Employees are being asked to “stay focused on working safely and continuing to deliver quality products on time,” she said.

Bondholder discussions are under way and the company decided to deferred its US$21 million in interest payments recently under a 30-day, no-default grace period from the Dec. 15 due date, said Brown, the Cowichan News Leader reported.

Catalyst has been restructuring amid massive debt, SunFM News reported. Aside from the operation in Crofton, it has pulp and paper mills in Port Alberni and Power River, British Columbia.

In the capital restructuring process, talks involve all parties that need to be “fully engaged,” said Brown. This might include the approximately 500 unionized workers at the Crofton mill and council members from North Cowichan, where Catalyst paid C$5.4 million in property taxes this year.

In 2010, the Crofton mill alone was responsible for creating indirect employment for an estimated 2,450 people and contributing C$490 million to economic activity, reported the Cowichan News Leader.

The primary sources of this article are the Cowichan News Leader and 897 Sun FM News, both located in Duncan, British Columbia, on Dec. 23 and Dec. 28, respectively.

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