Labor offer at NewPage Port Hawkesbury's groundwood papers mill in Nova Scotia accepted by more than 85% of CEP members; Pacific West says its purchase still hinges on a power deal, provincial funding, wood supply arrangement

LOS ANGELES , April 18, 2012 () –

Union members have agreed to a new contract at NewPage Port Hawkesbury Ltd.’s groundwood papers mill in Point Tupper, Nova Scotia, but other hurdles remain before a sale to Pacific West Commercial Corp. can close, reported CBC News on April 18.

The contract ratification by more than 85% of those voting is a “good endorsement,” even though it means that not everyone will have a job when the mill restarts, said Archie MacLachlan, a representative of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP).

Workers were pressured to ratify the offer as rejection would likely have meant that the mill would close permanently, said Steve MacDougall, a union spokesperson. The CEP recommended that its members approve the deal, CBC News reported.

Pacific West Commercial, which is owned by Vancouver, British Columbia-based Stern Partners Inc., threatened to abandon its bid to buy the mill if the contract offer was rejected.

The company intends to restart only the supercalendered paper machine and mothball the newsprint machine, reducing the workforce to 229 from about 600. MacLachlan said it was “a sad time” with the paper machine closure looming, reported CBC News.

However, before the sale goes through and the mill restarts other obstacles need to be overcome, which Pacific West is currently addressing, said Pacific West spokesperson Marc Dube. This includes a deal with Nova Scotia Power Inc., funding from the province, and a wood supply pact with the government.

Dube said Pacific West is pleased with the union’s ratification of the contract offer, and expects it to be “the catalyst that gets us to completion.”

So far, the province has spent C$27.3 million to keep the mill in a hot idle since it closed last September, with the hope that it would be sold and easily restarted, CBC News reported.

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


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