Sunday, January 24, 2010

Since the provincial government ruled that the present lockout at the Tembec plant in Pine Falls Manitoba should end and become a "layoff" (see earlier here at Molly's Blog) there have been various offers and suggestions as to how to save the mill. The most prominent has been from a former managerial employee who has managed to leverage his various managerial positions and perks with various companies into real liquid wealth. He, of course, demands at least as many concessions from the workers as Tembec has done.
The other contenders include the Sagkeeng First Nation, the town of Pine Falls and the Tembec employees themselves. The provincial government has committed over a million dollars to "study" the future of the mill (ie throwing/wasting good money at its managerial friends with no expected result). In the end, if there is to be an alternative to the most prominent item on the table it would pretty well have to be a multi-stakeholder partnership including Sagkeeng, Pine Falls, the employees and, yes, the provincial government (such a partnership would be a better place to park money than "studying" the feasibility. Whether such a thing is feasible should be the judgement of one properly qualified government employee working for 2 to 3 weeks (at government speed, less out in the real world) and costing nothing extra because they would simply be diverted from other duties. The proportions of who owns what and who takes on what liabilities would be the main subject of negotiations.
In better times the mill could have easily been purchased by the workers and run as a producers' coop. In actual fact it was once exactly that before it was sold to Tembec in a moment of greed and lack of foresight. The best mixture, in my opinion, for such enterprises is a mixed partnership between a local community and a workers' cooperative. Given the present situation other players, such as private equity and the province will pretty well inevitably have to be signed on if the mill is to viable at all. Once more I emphasize that conversion to producers' coops is best done at times that lack crisis, and that such conversion should be part of the policy of pretty well every union (yes-including the public service one ala the anarchosyndicalists in Spain).
Until that great utopia of's the continuing story of the Pine Falls plant from the pages of the Lac Du Bonnet Leader.
Union not impressed with mill offer
Posted By Marc Zienkiewicz
The president of United Steelworkers Local 3-1375 says an offer put forward last week to buy the Tembec paper mill in Powerview-Pine Falls is "worse" than the original concessions that led to the recent employee lockout at the mill.

Cam Sokoloski said J.P. Bradette's offer, put forward at a closed-door meeting Jan. 13, was nothing to get excited about.

"It's worse than what Tembec's offer was," Sokoloski said. "We're still looking at the numbers, nothing's been decided yet. We have a ways to go yet."

Tembec's original concessions included a 35 per cent cut to the union compensation package, including an immediate 25 per cent wage reduction.

Bradette is a former Tembec VP of sales. He currently serves as "principal" for Toronto consulting firm BSC Communications. Prior to his term with Tembec, he served as VP of sales for Ontario Power Generation for four years.

Sokoloski would not give specifics on Bradette's offer, first reported in last week's Leader, but said the union is keeping all its options open. It's working jointly with Sagkeeng First Nation on a feasibility study to see if the mill could become community-owned.

In the meantime, less than half of the mill's 275 workers are still walking the picket line. The lockout officially ended last week, and since then many have left to look for work elsewhere.
Mill workers like Dorian Trethart are sticking around for the time being. The workers officially began applying for their Employment Insurance benefits this week, something they were unable to do because of the lockout.

The union is working with the Community Unemployed Help Centre in Winnipeg to try and convince Ottawa to help the workers obtain retroactive EI benefits to Sept. 1 of last year, the day the lockout started.

If that happens, each worker could get up to $7,000.

Still, Trethart and fellow union member Jeff Dugard aren't holding their breath.

"EI is like an insurance company — they love to take the premiums, but they don't want to pay out," Trethart said. "Been there, done that."

Dugard agreed.
"Just because they're letting us apply is no guarantee they'll give us anything," he said.

In the mean time, Tembec has pushed its purchase deadline back to the end of March. It recently put the mill up for sale, and said if it didn't get purchased by the end of January, the mill would be mothballed.

Ed Gaffray, acting president of the Blue Water Chamber of Commerce, said that's encouraging. The chamber met with Bradette last week.

"It was more of an information meeting to let people know he was serious," Gaffray said.
"Pushing the deadline back does show there's a serious offer there, but time will tell.

Buying a mill isn't like buying a car — there's a lot involved, and it's even more complicated right now what with the economy and all."

The USW picket line headquarters across from the mill will come down in about a week, the union said.

1 comment:

flustin said...

TEMBEC INC. Has turned to VIOLENT TERRORIST WAYS OF NEGOTIATING With PEOPLE, I am a part of the LOCAL 233 UNION Temiscaming, Quebec Site And Tembec has set Out to USE us to keep Their Greedy Hands on our lives.
We Are A DYING GROUP of (LOCAL 233) People WHO ARE WILLING TO SHARE To see Those Who Are ONLY Willing TO TAKE.

WE Will Fight As Hard as WE CAN FOR THOSE in Which Tembec Has Decided To Make it Personnel With. We Will Need As Many Brothers And Sisters To Help Us Make A Stand. And Make Them Share With Those Whom TEMBEC Decided to steal From.

I am A Member Of the (Dying) LOCAL 233 Who Does Care And Will Fight against Them. Because The Tembec I Grew up to Respect and love No LONGER EXIST.....