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Tolko's Kamloops mill will reduce shifts

CANADA (From news reports) -- Tolko has temporarily reduced shifts at its Heffley Creek mill, citing market conditions.

Shifts affected include overnight lathe and weekend drying. The changes take effect starting in April.

"Employees have been informed this week and we are working to redeploy those impacted," said Brett VanderHoek, Tolko's director of people and services.

VanderHoek said the mill will continue to produce veneer to meet the internal demand for plywood production.

The company is citing high fibre costs and a weak North American plywood market as the reason behind the cuts.

VanderHoek would not say how many employees are affected or when the re-deployment process is expected to be completed, but noted the mill has 250 total employees and, ideally, employees will be re-deployed within the mill.

"I'm unable to comment on that because what we are attempting to do is re-deploy our employees who are impacted under the language of the collective agreements," he said.

He said the situation is "not ideal."

"As you can imagine, it's complex. We're facing challenging market conditions. ... It really is related to high fibre costs and a weak North American plywood market," he said.

Earlier this month, Tolko resumed operations at its lumber operations in Armstrong and at Soda Creek in Williams Lake after a three-month shutdown that impacted about 350 employees.

In late 2019, Tolko closed its Kelowna mill, which had employed 127 people, and implemented a two-week shutdown of all B.C. operations, including at the Heffley Creek site, due to low prices and high log costs. The Heffley Creek mill was also shut down for nine days in the summer of 2019.

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