Nova Scotia

Bowater workers slowly moving on

In the wake of the closure of Liverpool's biggest employer, Bowater, some people are moving on, while others are having a hard time finding replacement work.
It's been seven weeks since the Bowater mill in Queens County shut down, putting 400 people out of work. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

In the wake of the closure of Liverpool's biggest employer, Bowater, some people are moving on, while others are having a hard time finding replacement work.

The province has added staff at Liverpool's Employment Solutions Society, to help deal with the 400 people left jobless by the closure of the Bowater mill seven weeks ago.

Some job-seekers are talking to potential employers such as Shelburne Repair, and aircraft parts manufacturer Composites Atlantic. Composites president Claude Baril says the company is hiring 30 people, from supervisors to hourly-paid workers.

"We need people who are good with their hands — people who can read and understand technical manuals," he said.

Only two former Bowater employees have applied. That doesn't surprise Margaret Matthews, the executive director of Employment Solutions. She says making a big change can be difficult.

"A lot of folks have been employed, some of them are 20-plus years — and then coming in and looking at what they are going to do with the rest of their life, it's a big decision," she said.

Allan Laws, head of the paper workers' union in Liverpool said some tradesmen have already been hired by Irving, and others have gone to the West. He said the paper workers haven't been as lucky, although some met yesterday with the company that is planning to reopen the NewPage Port Hawkesbury mill.

"They're putting on a job fair now," he said. "I think it's only temporary work, to get things going up there, but that's what they're here for, to gather up some guys."

The mill's future is uncertain. Laws said paper workers would like to retrain, but many community courses are full. The province said the college can add customized courses, once enough people decide which trade they want to pursue.

now