Sunday, October 08, 2006

Catalyst, unions discuss future of company's Port Alberni, B.C., pulp and paper mill

Catalyst, unions discuss future of company's Port Alberni, B.C., pulp and paper mill; fate of US$22M investment on the line - Canfor Direct ForestWeb
Catalyst is closing its groundwood pulp mill on Sept. 30, resulting in the loss of more than 60 jobs, the newspaper reported. Deinked pulp from the company's Paper Recycling Div. in Coquitlam, B.C., will offset the shortfall of feedstock.

The mill's two unions, the Pulp and Paper Workers Local 686 and Communications, Energy and Paperworkers of Canada (CEP) Local 592, are being asked to approve a five-year dedicated supplier agreement that would guarantee uninterrupted deliveries.

Although the supplier agreement would not assure employment at the mill, failure to reach one would lead to a reorganization of the mill's workforce in January 2007 and 'the customer order will go to another Catalyst mill,' the company said.

The supplier agreement is part of an optimization plan for the Port Alberni mill which includes cost-cutting measures. At previous meetings, Catalyst asked the unions to make changes in work practices, which the company has said it needs to assure reinvesting in the mill will reap benefits.
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In 2005, Catalyst reported a loss of $25.6 million or 12 cents a share on sales of $1.82 billion. That compared to a loss of $28.6 million or 13 cents per share on sales of $1.88 billion in 2004.

The company shut down groundwood pulp operations at its Port Alberni mill at the end of September and cut 60 jobs in a move to reduce fibre costs.

The paper maker said the groundwood pulp produced by the mill will be replaced by de-inked pulp supplied by the company's paper recycling division in Coquitlam, B.C.

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