Scroll down to see information released earlier Tuesday, July 9 about the job losses.
Update as of 5:20 p.m.July 9
Kevin Anderson, managing director of operations and technical at Celgar, has spoken with the Castlegar News about the unfolding situation regarding layoffs at the Celgar pulp mill.
“It’s an unfortunate reality for some people here,” said Anderson. “Though we are doing our best to minimize the impact to employees. One of the key things is that we’re looking to offer, as much as possible, voluntary alternatives for senior employees to depart and lessen the impact to some of our junior employees.
“There are some unknowns, in particular with those covered under the collective agreement. We know the number of positions but it’s difficult to know the employees that are going to go because there is quite a process in the collective agreement around seniority that we need to work though.”
Anderson added the company is doing its best to be “as fair and generous” with the retirement incentives as possible and that once it’s better known who will take the voluntary options it will be easier to ascertain who will be leaving on an involuntary basis.
A call to Mike Conci, president of Local 1 – Pulp, Paper Woodworkers of Canada in Castlegar was not responded to by press deadline. Look for more in the Castlegar News on Thursday and on our Twitter and Facebook pages.
Mercer International Inc. announced today a workforce reduction is expected to involve approximately 85 employees over the next five years, with the majority of employees to be affected over the next 12 months.
The company said after conducting a comprehensive assessment, the reduction is intended to improve its competitiveness with other pulp producers.
The planned reduction will affect both hourly and salaried employees.
“It is essential for the long term viability and sustainability of the Celgar mill that it maintains a competitive cost structure compared to other producers in the face of ever increasing costs and other challenges, said Mercer’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Jimmy Lee in a release.”A competitive cost structure is also essential to attract the necessary investment capital required to continue to modernize the mill and participate in growing bio-economy opportunities.”
The release notes Celgar will take appropriate measures to assist employees affected by the cuts in accordance with applicable agreements, policies and legislation and offer early retirement incentives for senior employees.
The Celgar mill will continue to operate with an annual capacity of approximately 520,000 air-dried metric tons of market northern bleached softwood kraft pulp and plans to employ approximately 370 employees when the workforce reduction is completed at the end of 2017.
Since purchasing the mill in 2005, Mercer has allocated approximately $140 million in capital improvements to the Celgar mill. Approximately $60 million of this total was funded from subsidies received from Federal programs aimed at improving the global competitiveness of the Canadian pulp industry.
As the main economic engine for Castlegar and one of the largest employers in the West Kootenay region, Celgar has been providing high-paying, family-supporting jobs for over 50 years.
In 2012, Celgar contributed $52 million to the local economy in wages and benefits.