Nfld. & Labrador

Kruger tells workers fate of mill in their hands

Joseph Kruger appeals directly to workers of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, telling them their vote will determine whether their mill stays open.
Joseph Kruger, seen arriving at Confederation Building for an early June meeting with Premier Kathy Dunderdale, has written directly to Corner Brook Pulp and Paper employees. (CBC)

Newsprint producer Joseph Kruger appealed directly Tuesday to workers of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, telling them in no uncertain terms that their upcoming vote on a concessionary wage package will determine whether their mill stays open.

"Essentially, the fate of the mill is now in your hands," Kruger wrote in a two-page employee letter. [Read the full text of the letter here.]

Kruger acknowledges that the workers are being asked to take a pay cut, although he does not disclose the terms of a package that was put before unionized employees late last week.

"I also know that employees do not like the idea of wage concessions any more than a company wants to incur losses. But that’s the reality we are facing today," the letter said.

"You must realize that I resent having to ask employees to make this kind of sacrifice because it means that the situation of the mill is beyond critical, despite the fact that we have invested over $800 million in this operation since acquiring it in 1984."

Unionized workers are set to begin meetings on Wednesday toward a vote that must be completed by this Friday.

Kruger pulled no punches in telling workers what he believes is at stake.

"When you vote on our proposal this week, please keep in mind that we are all working towards a common goal, that is, to ensure a future for Corner Brook Pulp and Paper," he wrote.

"A vote against our proposal would be a vote against maintaining the mill."

Montreal-based Kruger Inc. delivered what it called a final offer to its unionized workforce at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper late Friday night, following a week of talks aimed at keeping the aging mill open.

National officials with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union have recommended that rank and file accept the offer.