Gatineau mill workers "abandoned" by government

OTTAWA, May 17 /CNW Telbec/ - Another 500 workers became victims of the forestry crisis today as pulp and paper giant AbitibiBowater announced the indefinite closure of its mill in Gatineau, Quebec.

"Workers in Gatineau have been abandoned by their federal government and betrayed by their employer," says Dave Coles, President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union. "It makes my blood boil to hear Prime Minister Harper and others say the recession has ended, while forestry families continue to get devastating news like this.

"For months and months, we have been calling on the government to take the simple step of providing loan guarantees at commercial rates for companies forced into bankruptcy protection, such as AbitibiBowater. It would cost the government nothing to do this - yet it has steadfastly refused to help the forest industry weather the recession as it did for the automobile industry."

But Coles also had strong words for the company saying "it has hit a new low" by taking such a drastic step to escape its severance pay obligations.

"AbitibiBowater is cheating its workers out of their severance pay by closing the mill while it is under CCAA bankruptcy protection," he says.

"The frustrating thing is it doesn't have to be this way, he says, because forestry has a future. Just look at the mill in Thurso which is a model for renewal."

"When all partners get together, there are solutions. Forestry has been one of the cornerstones of Canada's economy and it could continue to be so with a little foresight by industry leaders and governments.

"The forestry crisis will escalate unless the government intervenes," concludes Coles. And until it does, it will not hear the end of us."

SOURCE Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

For further information: For further information: CEP President Dave Coles, (613) 299-5628

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Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

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