Nova Scotia

Pay plan falls flat with ex-NewPage contractors

Former NewPage contractors say the province isn't giving them enough money to keep them working in the woods.

Former NewPage contractors say the province isn't giving them enough money to keep them working in the woods.

The Nova Scotia government put together a $14-million package to help the contractors until a new buyer is found for the shuttered mill near Port Hawkesbury.

Paul Delaney, a spokesman for 18 contractors, said they're being asked to work at half their usual capacity and take a pay cut of up to 20 per cent.

"We've been working on a three to five per cent profit margin since 2006. So if you take 15 to 20 per cent off that, we're working in the red. And most of us are in the red enough as it is after having lost what we lost from NewPage," he told CBC on Thursday.

Delaney said there is also a problem with the harvesting areas that the government has set aside for them. He said cutting these large hardwood stands requires different equipment than they have.

Allan Eddy, a regional director with the Department of Natural Resources, said the focus is on hardwood because there's now very little demand for pulpwood.

"Pricing is a little different around those pieces so there's some issues to work out there. We understand that and we are committed to the extent that we can, working with the contractors to resolve those issues," Eddy said.

He admits the program will not suit every contractor, but said he hopes it works for most of them.

The NewPage paper mill shut down last month. The company blamed rising costs and a high Canadian dollar.

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