Workers at AV Nackawic dissolving pulp mill in New Brunswick worried about their jobs, but a senior official says the 35 union job cuts planned are over three years and will be through attrition, as called for in current labor contract

LOS ANGELES , January 18, 2012 () –

Thirty-five unionized jobs will be eliminated at the AV Nackawic Inc. dissolving pulp mill in Nackawic, New Brunswick, over the next three years, the company has told workers, reported CBC News on Jan. 19.

Workers are worried about the cuts, which the union said earlier would occur by next February. The mill recently lost three unionized positions, CBC News reported on Jan. 18.

However, a senior official said that the 35 positions to be eliminated will be through attrition, as called for in the last labor contract.

The cuts are in line with the company’s spending on new automated equipment, which will require fewer operators, said Frank Slater, AV Nackawic’s senior VP of operations, CBC News reported.

In the labor agreement ratified last summer, the job cuts were a concession made by the union so that the company would agree to C$1.6 million in benefit improvements, Slater said, noting that reducing the workforce by 35 will save about C$1 million in payroll costs.

AV Nackawic is expected to turn a profit this year, said Slater, reported CBC News.

Earlier, it was reported that workers were puzzled by the job cuts in light of the mill having received substantial federal and provincial assistance in the past several years.

Even after the mill reopened under new ownership, after a one-year shutdown, the threat of job cuts continued, CBC News reported.

The mill was bought in 2005 by a joint venture that is 95% held by India’s Aditya Birla Group and 5% by Canada-based Tembec Inc.

At the time of the acquisition, the mill had its biggest infusion of provincial funding, a C$67-million package of direct loans and loan guarantees aimed at helping bring the mill back onstream.

Company officials, who were in India for meetings with Aditya Birla Group, were not available for comment at the time of the Jan. 18 CBC News report.

The province provided C$10 million in 2008 to upgrade and convert the operation to produce dissolving pulp and a five-year loan of C$10 million in 2009 to protect 300 jobs. More recently, the mill received an award from Ottawa’s C$1-billion Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program, reported CBC News.

The primary source of this article is CBC News, Toronto, Ontario, on Jan. 18, 2012 and Jan. 19, 2012.

 

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