Nova Scotia

Job cuts on the table for Bowater mill

Union officials from the Bowater Mersey Paper Co. Ltd. mill returned from a meeting with Abitibi Bowater in Montreal Wednesday with several concessions for the workforce, including job cuts.

Union officials from the Bowater Mersey Paper Co. Ltd. mill emerged from a meeting with Abitibi Bowater in Montreal Wednesday with proposed concessions for the workforce, including job cuts.

Parent company Abitibi Bowater wants some significant changes to keep the Liverpool plant open.

Local union president Courtney Wentzell said the requested changes include significant job cuts.

"There are many, many, many concessions on the table. There's not much left," said Wentzell.

Wentzell wouldn't elaborate any further to CBC News. He said he didn't want to generate fear into the membership until he meets with them first.

"We'll be talking to our representatives. We'll probably be talking to some provincial government officials if we can and of course we have to talk to our membership," he said.

The company wants to lower the cost of labour from $97 a tonne of paper to $80.

Wentzell said last week that 175 workers have already taken a 22 per cent wage cut in the last two years to help the mill stay competitive.

Other concessions are in the works. Queens and Lunenburg are considering lowering municipal taxes for Bowater facilties in each county.

Bowater paid $1.4 million in municipal taxes in 2010.

The province will be mindful that any assistance won't trigger a complaint of unfair subsidy under the free trade agreement.

"I realize how big an ask this is for them, and I think it's incumbent on me to go down and see them and talk to them about what this is about. I'm going to do that," Premier Darrell Dexter said Wednesday.

Dexter said government help must have a long lasting impact.

"How could we support conservation measures, for example, in mills that would put them in a more competitive position with respect to energy rates?" questioned Dexter. "Those are savings that go on year after year."  

now