Union, Neucel enter discussions

Unifor Local 514 voted overwhelmingly in favour of entering into discussions with Neucel.

Things may be looking up in Port Alice. Way up.

Unifor Local 514 voted overwhelmingly in favour of entering into discussions with the Neucel Specialty Cellulose pulp mill in Port Alice.

Neucel has recently been looking at ways to cut financial costs during the pulp mill’s production curtailment, and they made a request to the 514 union to reopen the five-year collective agreement that was signed back in 2013.

“We need to reduce our fixed costs, and wages are a large part of fixed costs,” said Neucel’s Vice President of Human Resources Warren Beatty.

Beatty added that in order for the company to restart pulp production, they need to change “the way we do things. We need a process to make those changes, which was why we asked to reopen the collective agreement.”

The 514 Union held a meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 14 to discuss Neucel’s request to reopen the agreement, which is currently in effect until Dec. 31, 2017.

“The company put forward a request,” said 514 Union President Don Vye. “We have due process to respond to them, so we put forward the information to a meeting on Tuesday night. Senior officers and wage delegates voted 96 per cent in favour to arrange a meeting to sit down and tell the company we are willing to discuss some specific areas of cost reduction.”

That meeting was held Thursday, Nov. 17, said Beatty. “The union requested some additional information at the meeting, which we are currently in the process of giving them. The union will then decide whether to accept it, or to make other recommendations by Dec. 19.”

Neucel has been in production curtailment since March of 2015.

The company was originally supposed to be closed for six months, but the “conditions that existed in March continued to exist after the initial six months,” said Beatty, adding that recently there have been improvements. “The market price for our product is strengthening, which is why we are now working towards restarting the mill,” he said.

When asked to comment, Port Alice Mayor Jan Allen replied that it’s “fantastic news,” adding that “it all sounds positive that Neucel and the union are working together to reopen the mill and cease curtailment. We’re all very hopeful about the mill, the whole regional district’s goal is to get the mill operational again.”

At a Sept. 29, 2015 open house in Port Alice, it was stated that the 100-year-old mill will need equipment upgrades if it does restart. If those upgrades happen, there will likely be 320 to 360 employees – down from about 400.

 

Just Posted

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Tier 3 Bantam Championships

“The packed arena and electricity within was fantastic.”

Port Hardy RCMP issues warning about recent overdose

“Our primary concern is public safety. We are urging the public to be aware of what is circulating.”

Port Hardy RCMP looking for volunteers who are interested in public safety

“The volunteer program will include community and crime prevention programs”

Suspicious fire in Alert Bay burns two homes, spreads to nearby bush

Police say underage suspects have been identified

VIDEO: North Island Bantam Eagles tie Dawson Creek Canucks in front of massive hometown crowd in Port Hardy

The Tier 3 Bantam Championships continued in style last night at the Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena.

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

Fire crews battle large blaze at Courtenay hostel

Courtenay Fire Chief Don Bardonnex said nobody was injured

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Most Read