Hantsport mill announces layoffs

Another mill in Nova Scotia has announced a round of layoffs, this time in the small town of Hantsport.

Another mill in Nova Scotia has announced a round of layoffs, this time in the small town of Hantsport.

Hantsport is an industrial giant in the area, as almost 400 people have worked at Minas Basin Pulp and Paper Co. Ltd. and its associated plants. The town's population is about 1,200.

Like Port Hawkesbury's NewPage paper mill and Liverpool's Bowater Mersey Paper Company Ltd. mill, Hantsport's 84-year-old mill is threatened.

Mill president Scott Travers said the paper industry is suffering. (CBC)

Hantsport Mayor Wayne Folker said news of layoffs at the plant has the town nervous.

"We would be concerned, but I don't think we're in a panic mode right now," Folker told CBC News.

Folker said he worked at the plant for 49 years and his father worked there before him.

The mill company has announced it is reducing its workforce — some through layoffs and some by attrition — at the paper plant, which employs about 180 people.

"Yesterday we made the tough decision to reduce our workforce in the order of eight per cent. It's not a large number, but those dedicated employees that we let go and said goodbye to, it was a tough day," said Scott Travers, president of Minas Basin.

"The decision is a result of the question of sustainability within the paper industry," he added.

Travers said the whole industry has had a terrible time in North America in the last 10 years, adding that his paper-packaging sector is doing better than fine paper mills thanks to electronic media.

Travers said his company's problem is high energy costs and the U.S. exchange rate.

However, he said the mill would not be asking for a special power rate, as other mills have done.

"We don't support a special rate as being pursued by the other two entities, only because somebody has to pick up that rate pair base. All of industry in Nova Scotia has a challenge with electrical costs," said Travers.

Folker is hopeful.

"I'm pretty sure they'll pull through," said Folker. "It affects us all."