Nova Scotia

NewPage workers head to job fairs

Some job recruiters were in Port Hawkesbury Wednesday to meet some of the hundreds of people who will be laid off at the NewPage Port Hawkesbury Ltd. mill next month.

Some job recruiters were in Port Hawkesbury Wednesday to meet some of the hundreds of people who will be laid off at the NewPage Port Hawkesbury Ltd. mill next month.

The mill is closing indefinitely and some employees say they can't afford to wait to find out if it will reopen again.

"I'm here to see what Irving has to offer, hopefully pick something up," said John Pederson, who worked at NewPage for 21 years.

He said he never expected to be out of work.

"I always thought this mill was here for good, it's got … the best quality paper, it's got all the best resources," said Pederson.

He's prepared to move out of province for work, while his wife and children would stay in Port Hawkesbury.

"I'm upset, I don't want to leave, but what can you do?"

There was a steady flow of NewPage workers checking out jobs with Irving in New Brunswick and coal processing jobs in northern Alberta.

"Skilled tradesmen is high on our list but we are also looking for people with strong plant background we know our coal processing plant is a little different than  a paper plant but with plant experience it goes long way to filling our needs as well," said Paul Ehrenholz, a mine maintenance safety and training co-ordinator for Grand Cache Coal.

The union that represents the NewPage workers said it's disheartening, but it's telling its members to take full advantage of the job fairs.

"People with families and mortgages and cars to pay for, people have to do what they have to do, and until we get a clear picture of what's going to happen with this, people have to explore other options," said Steve MacDougall, spokesman for the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.

There will be more options for workers in Port Hawkesbury later this week as more companies hold job fairs, including Suncor, which has told the union it's looking for hundreds of people for a major expansion in Alberta.

Locals say if the mill does eventually reopen, it could have a hard time finding all the skilled workers it would need.

 

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