Resolute Forest Products plans to restart sawmill in Thunder Bay, Ontario, on Nov. 24 after temporary closure following recent accidents; union says workers feel they have have been subjected to 'unjust discipline,' plans to file grievance

LOS ANGELES , November 20, 2013 () – Resolute Forest Products Inc. says it plans to reopen its sawmill near Thunder Bay, Ontario, on Sunday night, CBC News reported on Thursday, Nov. 21.

The sawmill on the property of the Fort William First Nation was shut down Tuesday after a health and safety incident, and the mill's almost 200 workers were sent home.

The company said the mill had been closed for a 'safety break' following some recent accidents there, CBC News reported.

Resolute spokesman Xavier Van Chau said the company had reviewed its health and safety policies. In an email to CBC News, he stated: "Opportunities were identified to help ensure better proactive measures that can help prevent health and safety incidents at the site, including more rigorous use of personal preventive equipment and better near-miss reporting procedures.”

Van Chau said a meeting had been held with union representatives to discuss the findings and reopening the facility, and it had been decided to reopen the mill on the evening of Sunday Nov. 24.

Van Chau said the decision to close the mill had not been easy, noting that every day the mills was not running was another day when it was not making products. He said that although lack of production was costing the company, nothing was more valuable to Resolute than the health and safety of its workforce.

Unifor, which represents around 175 of the workers that were affected by the closure, says the union planned to file a grievance against Resolute. National representative Marvin Pupeza said the basis of the grievance was that workers had been sent home without pay. He noted they were being recalled from Nov. 21 to discuss safety issues prior to Sunday's start-up, but, according to Pupeza, Unifor feels its members have been subjected to "unjust discipline," CBC News reported.

The primary source of this article is CBC News, Thunder Bay, Ontario, on Nov. 21, 2013.

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