Thunder Bay

About 100 layoffs underway at Kenora, Ont., sawmill, Unifor says

A spokesperson for the union representing workers at the sawmill in Kenora, Ont., says he hopes employees who are part of an ongoing staggered layoff will not be off the job for too long.

Union says it hopes workers can start returning to work in a month or 2

The union representing workers at Kenora Forest Products' operations in the northwestern Ontario city says about 100 workers are expected to be laid off over the next couple of weeks.

A spokesperson for the union representing workers at the sawmill in Kenora, Ont., says he hopes employees who are part of an ongoing staggered layoff will not be off the job for too long.

Unifor national representative Steven Boon said about 100 employees of Kenora Forest Products' operations in the northwestern Ontario city are in the process of being laid off. Boon said that's due to a number of factors, including a drop in lumber prices within the past six months.

The union represents about 120 workers at the mill; Boon said that's the total of the plant's workforce.

"Layoffs have already started but they'll be staggered over the next two to three weeks as the sawmill consumes the rest of the logs in the yard," he said.

"The next two-to-three weeks, the mill should be down production-wise and then, right now, the plan is to have some people in shipping and a number of trades to continue at the plant and work on maintenance issues."

Ten to 20 employees will likely stay working through the layoffs for that maintenance work, Boon said.

He added that he expects to meet with company officials in about a month to reassess where things stand. He said he's hoping that the layoffs won't last any longer than a month or two.

Given current market conditions, Boon said the layoffs aren't a huge surprise.

"Last year was an excellent year in the industry in terms of, we had a major spike in softwood lumber prices," he said. "In the last six months, the lumber prices have really dropped substantially."

Boon added that U.S. duties on softwood lumber are also a factor.