Elk Falls Workers

Campbell River B.C.

Elk Closure

I’m sure all employees left at Elk Falls want to know how the closure effects them. We only learned of this decision by a phone call just before it went out on the newswire. We plan to meet with the company later this week to discuss details of the closure and will have more answers after that. I think we will use this blog to keep everyone as up to date with information as we can.
I am available as always on my cell phone 250-203-0258 don’t hesitate to call and I will answer your questions, if I can or get the answers if I can’t.
Truly a sad day for all of us and the community.

July 6, 2010 Posted by | - Mill News | 2 Comments

Elk Falls, PRD indefinite closure becomes permanent

Catalyst announces permanent closure of Elk Falls mill
7/6/2010 5:50 PM
RICHMOND, BC, Jul 6, 2010

Catalyst Paper (TSX:CTL) announced today that it is permanently closing its Elk Falls paper mill near Campbell River, British Columbia in September. This facility has been indefinitely curtailed since February 2009.

“Today’s news is a disappointing outcome for mill employees and families, for the community, and for our business,” said Catalyst President and CEO Kevin J. Clarke. “The steep decline in commodity paper markets, coupled with uncompetitive labour and tax costs were contributing factors that could not be overcome.”

“Adaptation has always been the key to survival,” Clarke noted, “and the uncertainty regarding the future of this mill was detrimental to all our operations and had to come to an end. With this difficult decision behind us, we can now focus our sales and marketing strategies and production planning around mills that still have the potential to operate competitively which is a better basis to future-focus our business overall.”

In a related decision, Catalyst also announced the permanent closure of its paper recycling operation in Coquitlam, British Columbia. The facility, which supplied the company’s Crofton mill, was indefinitely idled in February due to reduced recycled pulp requirements, combined with higher cost and constrained availability of quality recovered paper. All employees were laid off at the time.

The associated asset impairment charge, including severance costs, is estimated at $302 million and will be reflected in the company’s second quarter results. Only a small number of employees will continue to be required to manage and decommission the facility resulting in approximately 100 Elk Falls employees being immediately impacted by the permanent closure.

The Elk Falls mill began operation in 1952, and at its peak, produced 784,000 tonnes of pulp, paper and kraft paper annually.

July 6, 2010 Posted by | - Mill News | 13 Comments

Update on company meetings

We met  all day today with all the other Catalyst CEP locals and the company. We plan on meeting again tomorrow. Not a lot I am able to report other than there seems to be a common interest in exploring potential cost savings for the company.

March 26, 2010 Posted by | - Mill News | Leave a comment

Feb 26th Severance

So the big day came and went pretty quietly. Ian and myself talked to a few people by phone and at the office, but it was definitely not what I expected. So tell me what you think! Did the companies tactics scare you into putting in for severance? Did it convince you to wait? I would be interested in hearing from you about what you did about the severance to get an idea what the numbers are. Send a comment to this post and I will add you to the numbers, I won’t be putting these comments on the blog unless you request it because of privacy concerns.

The Company informed us that as of Monday March 1 there were approx 135 people that had signed off to receive a severance.  We have no individual names or a breakdown as to Trades vs Operations or 1123 or 630.

Thanks to all those that have taken the time to jot down their thoughts, but it would be good to hear the views of others – Remember, we aren’t posting these comments, just gathering information.  –  Ian

February 27, 2010 Posted by | - Mill News | Leave a comment

Friday Severance

We met with the company this morning to look at the form they expect employees to sign when applying for their severance. It says that you give up all claims against the company, which we read to mean if we win our holiday pay grievance you won’t get the money if you have already severed. Vern confirmed that was what they intended. When we asked the company about whether members can add a waiver of their own to the form about still having rights to grieve they said they would not accept forms that had that added.

We argued that the company has no right to ask members to sign away their rights as that’s not  required to get their contractual severance, but they were clearly not going to change their mind. We made sure we were clear that we don’t agree with their position and launched a grievance on the issue. For people intending to sever it’s either one more uncertainty or one more reason to leave depending on your point of view.

The company did tell us today that when employees go out to the mill they can talk to a company person and get their severance numbers and then go away if they want and look over the offer and get a chance to think about it and then come back later and hand it in. Anyone that hands in their request to sever tomorrow is going to be treated as the 26th severance date once the company has decided whether they are willing to pay, if they want a different severance day they need to hand it in later. Anybody that hands a layoff severance letter in between now and the 8th will hear on the 8th of March.

On the other hand for employees that still have kraftmill closure severance outstanding they won’t be dealing with those tomorrow. The company will not have any information about them and won’t be accepting the paperwork. Members that have a  kraftmill severance can put them in anytime after tomorrow and they will be put though as in the past. Those severances are still getting approved.

The company says there will people there all day from 8am to 4pm to talk to about the severance. Ian and myself will not be there as this is completely run by the company with no input from the union. We will however be available all day either at the office or on our cell phones for members that need more information just as we always are. If you need to ask questions don’t hesitate to call, that’s what we are there for. Lori has the numbers and they are on our website.

I want to say good luck everyone with your decision, I know it’s not easy and the company is unfortunately making no attempt to help. For those going to the mill please treat the staff with respect, they are just employees like we are and aren’t to blame for the mess the company is in.

February 25, 2010 Posted by | - Mill News | 13 Comments

More severance information?

Ian and myself had a very weird discussion with Vern Phillips today. We were asking about how the Company was going to deal with people on Friday, and when employees would be able to find out how much they are owed in severance. Vern told us that they wouldn’t be told until after they had indicated whether they want to sever or not. When we asked how people could possibly make this kind of life changing decision without all the information he replied that they could figure it out by themselves by multiplying their hourly wage by the weeks they are owed. I asked how people could have any confidence in the rate they will be paid since the company in the last year on a number of occasions has reinterpreted the collective agreement on what rate employees get paid for holidays and floaters. His response was if they figure out their severance on base rate they wouldn’t be disappointed and could even be pleasantly surprised if they get a severance cheque that is higher than what they expect.

We pushed back and he said he heard our point, and that he would bring our concerns up and try to get an answer for Thursday. Frankly I was absolutely astounded, anytime  I talk to anyone in the company I am more frustrated with their attitude. It’s like they don’t feel there are any rules that apply to them. I am slowly coming to the opinion that there is no-one that can save this company from themselves.

Update Vern Philips called this afternoon to say they’ve reconsidered their position, and will now be telling people the amount of severance they will be eligible to receive before they sign up for it. They say the issue is all around privacy concerns, so now it sounds like they will only be allowing 3 or 4 people at a time into the conference room, and once someone leaves, another person will be allowed in.

We’ve also been told that form people will be required to sign will include a waiver that states you are releasing Catalyst from all actions, claims, and demands you may have against them.  We have informed the Company that we disagree with them taking rights away from people, just because they want to exercise their contractual rights to take a severance.  People may think this doesn’t effect them, but anyone who has an ongoing grievance, or is impacted by the upcoming arbitration over how the Company unilaterally dropped peoples’ card rate down to base rate could be caught up in this…   We have received legal advise and will be launching another grievance over this.  But I would suggest that people black out the offending language on their severance application, or at the very least write “signed under duress” on the page.  We expect to have a meeting tommorrow to review the documents they will be asking people to sign, but I don’t expect they will be willing to make any changes.  –  Ian

February 24, 2010 Posted by | - Mill News | 8 Comments

Catalyst tax rate ruling

Catalyst loses in three bids to seek tax relief

Vancouver Sun Dec 21st

The right of three more municipalities to tax a major industry to the hilt has been confirmed by B.C. Supreme Court.

Rulings by Justice Peter Voith were released Monday, dismissing almost all the points in three separate petitions where Catalyst Paper Corp. sought relief from high municipal taxes in Campbell River, Port Alberni and Powell River. Voith made a similar ruling concerning North Cowichan in October.

In each community, a Catalyst mill is far and away the largest employer. This year, the company paid each municipality just $1.5 million toward tax bills that added up to a total of $23 million in all four places.

Only one small portion of the most recent rulings favoured Catalyst. It set aside the tax rate imposed on mill property by the Regional District of Campbell River, although not the much larger amount imposed by the city.

Most costs of the Campbell River court case and all costs for the other two were awarded to the cities.

Continue reading

December 22, 2009 Posted by | - Mill News, News | 4 Comments

People on the move – Jim Colquhoun

Jim Colquhoun  Senior advisor, human resources at Elk Falls Division has decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities effective Dec. 31. Jim joined Catalyst in 1997 at Elk Falls and has been a key member of the HR team at the mill.

We have relied on Jim’s expert knowledge and counsel on many issues over the years both at Elk Falls and across the company. We wish him every success in his new opportunity with the Central Okanagan School District in Kelowna.

  • It’s not often that I post staff movements on the site but most of our members have had contact with Jim the last few years. We’ve had a lot of interaction with Jim during our standing committee, kraft mill closure, cost savings meetings and of course the last year with the curtailment. I have always found him to be easy to deal with, he has a great amount of integrity and I wish him the best in his new career.
    Just one more person that Elk couldn’t afford to lose… but did.

December 7, 2009 Posted by | - Mill News | 4 Comments