Neucel and 514 Union open discussions

Pulp market prices prompt look at reopening Neucel Specialty Cellulose.

Neucel Specialty Cellulose has been in curtailment since March 2015.

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, who 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. They were 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.”

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

Council approves replacement of overhead heaters at Fire Hall

Port Hardy council has agreed to spend $11,000 on the replacement of… Continue reading

North Island Eagles minor rep ockey organization hand out year-end awards in Port McNeill

It was quite the season and then some for minor rep hockey here in the North Island.

North Island resident to campaign on climate, economy for Liberal Party seat in Ottawa

Peter Schwarzhoff joins race for the second time in North Island-Powell River riding

Press release: Port Alice Health Centre service model announced

“a sustainable and dependable model of health care service delivery in Port Alice is a priority”

First annual Pride Day coming to Port Hardy in August

Pride contributes to a more inclusive and safe community for LGBTQ+ identifying individuals.

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Raptors beat Bucks 120-102 to even series at 2-2

Lowry pours in 25 as Toronto moves within two games of NBA Finals

Body of missing snowmobiler recovered from Great Slave Lake

Police confirm the body is that of one of three missing snowmobilers

Christmas morning burglar sentenced on Vancouver Island

Justin Redmond Feusse, 20, sentenced to 240 days in jail for Dec. 25 break-and-enter

So, do you know ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’?

Ontario man searching for fellow he travelled with in Europe 50 years ago

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

Is vegan food a human right? Ontario firefighter battling B.C. blaze argues it is

Adam Knauff says he had to go hungry some days because there was no vegan food

Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Nearly 5,000 people have cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nation

Most Read