Tembec Denies Pine Falls Workers Severance, EI and Workplace Rights

WINNIPEG, Dec. 23 /CNW/ - Locked-out members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 3 - 1375, at the Tembec Manitoba Newsprint operations in Powerview-Pine Falls, unanimously rejected a company proposal Tuesday to change the lockout to a layoff if workers agreed to defer severance pay and give up their employment security rights unless the operations were running at 100 per cent capacity.

USW negotiators and Tembec met Tuesday with two conciliators from the Manitoba Department of Labour to possibly end the lockout that began September 1, 2009. Two hundred and sixty USW members and 20 members of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union are on the picket line in rejection of wage and contract concessions that exceed 35 per cent.

"It is clear Tembec has no interest in ending this dispute because it tabled proposals it surely must have known would be rejected outright by their employees, our members," said USW area supervisor Wayne Skrypnyk.

The USW has applied to the provincial labour board for Interest Arbitration.

Despite imposing the lockout, earlier this month Tembec admitted to the Manitoba government and the unions that it intends to either sell the newsprint mill or close it down.

"If Tembec agreed to change its lockout to a layoff, our members would be able to collect Employment Insurance," said Skrypnyk. "This would have helped the workers and the community weather the economic storm that has hit the industry."

He added: "Tembec's denial of a workable agreement that would provide workers and their families access to Employment Insurance is heartless, especially at Christmas time."

The USW represents 250,000 workers in all sectors of the Canadian economy.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: For further information: Wayne Skrypnyk, USW Area Coordinator, (204) 232-7335

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