New Brunswick

Weyerhaeuser's Miramichi mill closed permanently

Weyerhaeuser said Friday it will not reopen its oriented strand board mill that closed in February in Miramichi, N.B., leaving workers scrambling to find new lines of work.

Weyerhaeuser saidFriday it will not reopen its oriented strand board mill that closed in February in Miramichi, N.B., leavingworkers scrambling to find new lines of work.

The company said it hashad no luck finding a buyer for themill, which was originally said to be temporarily closed. The decision leaves more than 140 employees out of work.

The union is asking the federal and provincial governments to invest in training and re-education programs so the former mill workers won't have to go far to find jobs.

Pat King, 35, said that after 10 years on the job, he never imagined he would be hitting the books again.

"It's a scary thought to go back to school," said King, adding that he studied a trade in college but never really worked in the trade. "I always made ends meet and had fairly well-paid jobs for the region we live in."

The mill made material for building houses and sent almost all of it to the United States. But with the American housing market in a slump and the Canadian dollar rising to almost $0.95 US, it's not worth it to keep the mill running, the company said.

Employees have two weeks to decide whether to accept a severance package or to maintain their recall rights for up to two years.

Union representative Dwayne Hancock said he was disappointed, but not surprised by the closing.

"What we have here is 140 relatively young families, [with] young children, mortgages, that are now facing some very tough decisions to make," Hancock said. "One of the decisions some people are making is to become a migrant worker, have to travel to the West to work."

King said he plans to register for a human resources course in Moncton and hopes itwill be enough to land him a job nearby.

"It's going to be tough for 10 or 12 months … to travel everyday to Moncton, but if that's what I have to do, that's what I have to do," he said.

King and dozens of his former co-workers will meet Wednesday with a career counsellor to find out what help the province will give them.