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Resolute to restart Thunder Bay sawmill on Sunday

Resolute Forest Products plans to reopen its sawmill in Thunder Bay on Sunday night.

Resolute Forest Products plans to reopen its sawmill near Thunder Bay on Sunday night.

The sawmill, which is on the property of Fort William First Nation, shut down Tuesday for what the company called a "safety break."

Nearly 200 workers are affected by the shutdown, which the company said was caused by some recent accidents at the sawmill.

Xavier Van Chau, a spokesperson for Resolute, told CBC News in an email the company has reviewed its health and safety policies.

“Opportunities were identified to help ensure better proactive measures that can help prevent health and safety incidents at the site, including more rigorous use of personal preventive equipment and better near-miss reporting procedures,” Van Chau's email stated.

“A meeting was held with union representatives … to discuss these findings and to talk about reopening the facility. It was decided that the sawmill will resume operation on Sunday evening, Nov. 24.”

The company said the decision to close the operation wasn't taken lightly.

“Each day we are not running the mill is another day we're not making products,” Van Chau's email continued. “Although that's costing us, nothing is more valuable than the health and safety of our workforce.”

Marvin Pupeza of Unifor, the union that represents about 175 workers at the sawmill, says it will file a grievance against the company. Pupeza says it's because workers were sent home without pay. He says they are being called back in starting today to discuss safety issues, prior to startup on Sunday. 

But Pupeza told the CBC the union feels its members have been subjected to unjust discipline.  "Anybody who's gonna be out anything, regardless of whether they were in safety meetings or just being sit home to sit and wait for a phone call to come back, that's all part of the same grievance going forward," he said. 

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