Nova Scotia

Temporary layoffs at Port Hawkesbury Paper 'could be a lot worse,' union says

The first vice-president of the union representing about 250 employees at Port Hawkesbury Paper says the company stopped production of one type of paper for a week, temporarily laying off a "significant" number of workers.

Union's 1st VP says workers not 'blindsided' by the news

The union expects workers to be back on the job by June 27. (CBC)

A union representing hundreds of workers at Port Hawkesbury Paper says that for the first time there will be a temporarily layoff at the paper mill.

It will last one week.

"Any time you lay people off it sends a whole bunch of shivers through everybody and, in a small community, people say 'Oh God, the mill is going down, right?'" said Archie MacLachlan, first vice-president of Unifor Local 972.  

"The news could be a lot worse."

MacLachlan said the facility in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., temporarily stopped production of supercalendered paper — the smoother, thinner paper often used in magazines. 

"The primary reason for shutting down this time is to make sure we're not producing paper that we don't have sales for right now," he said.

Slow sales and tariffs

MacLachlan said he didn't know how many of the approximately 250 mill employees with the union would be affected by the temporary layoffs except to say it was "significant."

"Sales have been slow throughout the industry," said MacLachlan. "Certainly one of the contributing factors is probably the tariffs that have been placed on numerous supercalendered producers."

MacLachlan said employees had warning. "We're not being blindsided that this is coming. [We've] discussed it in the past and so certainly the workers that are going home are disappointed but understand why it's happening."

Marc Dube, the development manager at Port Hawkesbury Paper, could not be reached on Saturday.

MacLachlan expects the affected employees to be back at work by June 27.

"We've been through a lot of hard times in the paper industry and at our particular mill, and I would say this employer is being smart in curtailing operations to make sure we don't oversupply the market with paper," said MacLachlan.

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