Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, 18 November 2011 -- White Birch Paper Company will temporarily cease production at its Stadacona newsprint mill, in Quebec City, Canada, beginning 09 December. The company stated it would review the viability of the mill "in light of significant manufacturing cost disadvantages specific to the plant, as well as the ongoing deterioration of economic conditions in the newsprint industry."
The move puts 600 employees out of work.
"I am deeply saddened that we are forced to idle the Stadacona mill and am very aware of the hardship this will impose on our quality employees who work there. However, the operation of Stadacona is simply unsustainable in the current cost environment," said Christopher Brant, president, White Birch Paper Company.
CBC News reported that the union representing workers at the mill will fight to keep the plant open. According to CBC, Daniel Larouche, of the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union, said he believes the closure is a lockout in disguise, as the workers were in the middle of contract negotiations.
Laroche said the union will argue that White Birch cannot act unilaterally, because it is currently under bankruptcy protection.
White Birch's Christopher Brant noted that the future of all three White Birch mills in Quebec is in jeopardy. The company also operates mills in Riviere-du-Loup (F.F. Soucy) and Gatineau (Masson).
"We need to resolve an integrated package of challenges quickly to be able to turn the situation around for the entire White Birch family of mills in Quebec. This is a difficult time for everyone at White Birch, and in our industry at large, but I remain confident that we can find a way to secure important new investment and emerge as a renewed company that provides sustainable long-term opportunities for our employees and value to our shareholders and the broader community in Quebec," Brant said.
White Birch is the second largest newsprint manufacturer in North America. It has been in creditor protection status since February 2010.
The company stated that decreasing demand for newsprint and higher fiber costs, coupled with the inability to come to an economic agreement with union employees, have contributed to this decision.