Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy told the public last week that Corner Brook Pulp and Paper is precariously close to bankruptcy.
The warning was aimed at unionized workers who have so far rejected further compromises on the their pensions that would allow the companies paper machines to keep on rolling. The family company does not want to share it's books with the workers. It is demanding, with government pressure, that the members re-think their previous vote or they will close the mill.
The ultimatum, backed by the government's anti-union rhetoric in the House of Assembly leaves the workers with the weight of the City of Corner Brook's industrial future on their shoulders. NDP Leader Lorraine Micheal has tried to alleviate that weight by asking government to ensure the pensions will be protected if the company does not survive the current crisis. This would certainly allow the workers to put the mill ahead of their future pensions.
The volatility of the industry was reinforced today when Bowater-Mersey announced that the mill in Brooklyn, NS, will be idled starting
on Sunday because it is unable to compete as prices decline in export
In December, Premier Darrell Dexter announced a $25-million forgivable loan
to the firm in $5-million yearly portions.
If I were worried about my long term pension, the closure of the Nova Scotia Mill would be playing on my mind.
Government needs to get out of the shadows. Stop making secret overtures and feeding the intimidation/rumor mill be offering the workers a lifeline that protects their pensions. A refusal to to so is asking too much of a small group of individuals that have worked hard for a retirement that could be lost.