Nfld. & Labrador

Kruger sends warning to unionized Corner Brook workers

The owner of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper has sent a strongly worded letter to its workers, claiming that local union leaders may have put the mill in jeopardy.
A Kruger executive has written to employees of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper to counter recent comments by union officials. (CBC)

The owner of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper has sent a strongly worded letter directly to its workers, claiming that union leaders may have put the newsprint mill in jeopardy.

Last week, local officials with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union claimed Montreal-based Kruger Inc. had not been transparent and was eroding trust with its workers about changes to pension plans. Workers feared the changes would slash benefits to retirees.

But Kruger has fired back, arguing the company is being falsely accused of holding back information.

In an open letter sent to workers, senior executive Daniel Archambault strongly criticized union leaders. [Read a copy of the letter here.]

"As the deadline to approve the application of the funding relief measures is fast approaching, creating controversy by falsely accusing the company of such manoeuveres is extremely irresponsible and may jeopardize our chances to obtain the funding relief measures," wrote Archambault, who is Kruger's executive vice-president and chief operating officer.

"The company never had any intention to renege on its 2005 commitment and it is appalling to hear such declarations after we have helped the mill survive the recent recession and worked relentlessly with the unions to find solutions to secure the Corner Brook operation for the long term."

Mill employees have until Thursday to vote on whether to accept Kruger's plan to extend the time it has to repay deficits in the mill's pension plans.

Kruger has asked for a 10-year repayment period, double the original plan of five years.

On Tuesday, a national official with the CEP urged members to accept Kruger's pension proposal, calling it the "lesser of any of the evils."