Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Canada, 22 November 2011 -- It was a close vote, but in the end, 80 workers will lose their jobs at the Bowater Mersey paper mill in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, under a new collective agreement put forward by owner Resolute Forest Products (formerly AbitibiBowater). The vote on the matter swung in favor of the owner's demands by only 51%, 104 votes to 97.
"There'll be tons of bitterness," Courtney Wentzell, president of Local 141 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, told the Chronicle Herald newspaper. The CEP union represents 155 of the 222 unionized workers at the paper mill.
Bowater Mersey operates two paper machines, with a capacity of 250,000 metric tons/year of newsprint.
Resolute Forest Products has stated its intention to reduce labor costs to CAD 80 per metric ton, from CAD 97, and to trim manufacturing costs, which include an energy cost reduction from Nova Scotia Power, to CAD 480 per metric ton from CAD 537 by 01 January," the Chronicle Herald reported.
According to the newspaper, the new collective agreement cuts 80 positions, freezes wages until 2016, and reduces benefits. Severance packages will be offered, equal to one-and-one-half week's salary for every year of service.
Wentzell said the union did not make a counter offer, operating under the impression that Resolute's proposed collective agreement was an ultimatum.