Elk Falls Workers

Campbell River B.C.

Friday July 17 – Mr Garneau Comes To Town

We were called by Richard Demchuck on Thursday and told that Mr Garneau, Boniferro, Johnston and others were in town the next day and wanted to meet with reps of both locals. He couldn’t tell us what the meeting was about so we took our standing committee. The meeting was basically a business review with Mr Garneau telling us how bad things are in the paper industry.  He went through a series of slides to explain how we had to reduce the cost of our newsprint to below $400 dollars per ton in order to have any hope of surviving the next few years. To get below $400/ton we would have to work for free. His point was we have to reduce our labour costs from $65 dollars per hour to below $40 dollars per hour, that’s including benefits. He reiterated that it isn’t only the Elk Falls mill that they expect to reduce the cost per hour, but all the Catalyst mills including the ones with a $80/ton plan.

He then went on to say that projected North American consumption will be  below what the American Papermills can produce on their own, so we won’t be able to export any newsprint to the USA. They also enjoy the black liquor subsidy that we don’t and he thinks they will use it to modernize their mills.

I was left with the impression that there are no plans to restart Elk anytime soon.  He did say it was only the mills with very low cost structures that will run.  He also commented on how the municipalities don’t seem to care about his tax problems and the Provincial Government isn’t interested in talking to Catalyst about it either.  He also doesn’t like how the Federal Government is administering the black liquor subsidy.  He said if we (the unions) could talk to all three levels of government it would be helpful since they are our government and will listen to us. He left us with all this information and suggested it was something we needed to think about.

He said it was clear his predictions about the industry had been right so far and reiterated the need to continue the course he is on.   At the end of the meeting he asked if we had any questions.  Since he had made it clear he wasn’t interested in debating his figures or his analysis of them, there wasn’t many questions.

I thought it was an odd meeting:  on one hand he says we have to reduce costs to run, but on the other hand says there isn’t any market for our paper now or in the future. He also said the market for all the other paper that Catalyst makes is also quickly eroding.

July 17, 2009 - Posted by | - $80 Ton Updates


  1. I think we should all be busy exploring our options to find an employer who’ll be happy to have us, our skills, our dedication to improvement and our willingness to work with the dignity and respectfulness that we all at Elk Falls may take for granted. We all have much to offer and we bring much to the table. Relocating to find work is never a pleasing first thought, but many who’ve already done so have made the transition and life goes on. I’m still looking for something good. Yes some days feel empty but most days feel promising. I urge everyone to keep their chin up and move forward. It’s your future take it on your terms.

    Comment by Rob Russell | July 27, 2009 | Reply

  2. I just dropped in. Its time for all the catalyst employees to bind together an a protest a day at John Duncans office to legislate a ruling that all companies coming in to Canada understand our culture of life. That is to share wealth not to screw their neighbors.

    Comment by norm | July 21, 2009 | Reply

  3. hello.
    just dropped in, followed the link to this site, wish there was way more sites like this. to let everyone know, we in Crofton feel for our brothers and sisters of the CEP, we too are getting treated like crap, the company has got what they want, by putting mill against mill, but what they would like is machine by machine, read the port blog for the PPWC proposed memorandum of agreement for local 8, this is way beyond reality, you might as well throw in the towel and call it a day. we must stick together as one, it was not that long ago, we spent nine and a half months on the line for what we all believe, and if we have to do it again so be it. when your back is against the wall we stand united. be strong brothers and sisters.

    Comment by crofton paper maker | July 20, 2009 | Reply

  4. Just to add HSPP newsprint machine is down for a week,it was down for a week last month and it is going down for week every month for the for seeable future. Also the machine is only operating at 67% capacity.

    Comment by Blair Hunter | July 19, 2009 | Reply

    • Yes, Howe Sound P&P is talking downtime – In June HSPP announced that they would indefinitely curtail one-third of their newsprint production through a combination of paper machine shut downs and reduced operating rates. At that time they cited the problem as unsustainable low pricing in certain regions of the U.S. which were a direct result of the American Black Liquor tax rebate.

      Comment by Ian | July 19, 2009 | Reply

  5. I think it is time the self imposed KING Richard and his hired henchmen S**T or get off THE THRONE! They seem to enjoy screwing around with both locals like it’s a big game of bullying in the schoolyard! Maybe they don’t realize that they had a very dedicated workforce at ELK that wanted to get back to work and continue to do the excellent jobs that they are known for in the Industry. The workers at ELK don’t deserve to be treated like a PIECE of CRAP! Maybe THE KING and HIS COURT should sit down with 1123 and 630 for an extended period of time instead of bits and pieces here and there. Tell us what you want instead of beating around the bush with a bunch of drabble! What ever happened to Companies treating their employees with some RESPECT! Too bad some people didn’t leave their Back East Mentality on the other side of The Rockies!

    Comment by bugsy | July 18, 2009 | Reply

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