Neucel in Talks with Union to Restart Port Alice Dissolving Pulp Mill
(Canada, Nov. 22, 2016) Neucel reportedly would like to restart its Specialty Cellulose pulp mill in Port Alice, British Columbia, Canada, and on Nov. 14 met with Unifor Local 514 to talk about ways to cut fixed costs.
“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.”
According to a news story in the North Island Gazette, 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.
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 favor to arrange a meeting to sit down and tell the company we are willing to discuss some specific areas of cost reduction.”
Beatty told the North Island Gazette, “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 curtailed production in March of 2015. The downtime, which was the result of low prices for the company’s dissolving wood product, was originally intended to last for six months. But after the six-month timeframe, poor market conditions remained and the production curtailment was extended indefinitely.
However, market conditions are improving and Neucel is hoping it can reduce operating costs and get the mill back up and running.
“The market price for our product is strengthening, which is why we are now working towards restarting the mill,” Beatty is quoted as saying in the North Island Gazette’s story. (Source: North Island Gazette)
Cover Photo: Port Alice Dissolving Pulp Mill (courtesy Neucel)