Stephen Boon calls Resolute Forest Product’s decision to permanently close its Fort Frances pulp and paper mill a “final major blow” to the community.
Boon, Unifor’s national representative in Dryden, said workers have done everything they can to help the company work through financial difficulties, including agreeing to wage, benefit and pension cuts, but it wasn’t enough.
“We all hoped these difficult employee sacrifices, the abundance of quality wood fibre and necessary capital investment to reposition the Fort Frances site specifically related to the kraft mill,” Boon said.
The majority of the mill’s workforce was terminated on March 12, he went on to say, adding the union has been preparing its members for Tuesday’s announcement in the interim.
“With this decision to now permanently close the Fort Frances mill, we will now work to ensure Resolute follows through on its commitment to provide new job opportunities for affected Frances employees at the soon be to opened sawmills in Atikokan and Ignace."
The company confirmed the closure in a release issued to media on Tuesday. In January it announced an extended shutdown of its final paper machine. In November 2012 the company idled a kraft pulp mill and another paper machine.
"We tried hard to find a way to reposition these assets, particularly the pulp mill. But unfortunately, due to end product markets, the mill's operational configuration and its cost position, we've concluded that there was no economically viable option for the pulp and paper operations at Fort Frances," said Richard Garneau, president and chief executive officer.
The company said terminated workers will be considered for positions at the multi-national company’s other facilities.