August 30, 2011

Forestry contractors have been told to stop operations . During a meeting last Friday, woodlands owners were told to cease cutting immediately for NewPage Corp. said Brent MacInnis of Hugh MacInnis Lumber.

 “The meeting didn’t go very well, I guess, from our point of view,” said MacInnis. “The head of (NewPage’s) woodlands Bill Stewart said we were to cease cutting immediately. They were taking private wood up until Sunday evening and Crown wood up until Tuesday evening (today) and than that was it for the wood going in the yard.”

 MacInnis said contractors were under the assumption they would continue to supply wood until Sept. 10. Silviculture, or the care and cultivation of forest trees, ended last Friday.

 MacInnis said for his company, about 10 silviculture workers and another 15 harvesters will be affected by the overall mill shutdown.

 Ohio-based NewPage Corp. said it will indefinitely shut down its newsprint line at its Point Tupper mill Sept. 10, which will be followed by the shutdown of the supercalendered paper machine Sept. 16. Among its reasons for the decision, the company cited a strong Canadian dollar and poor market conditions.

 “The way I took it was, again, he wants to guarantee everybody gets paid so in order to do so they’re suggesting they want all operations done by the middle of this week.”

 MacInnis said contractors were told the situation isn’t just about power rates, but weren’t told what other factors are involved in keeping the mill open.

 “Two things I took from it that he really, really, stressed was one that we’re in a very, very serious situation … but he said it’s not impossible that this mill won’t be open again …. he stressed that it’s a very, very complex situation.”

MacInnis said he believes 20 forestry contractors will be affected by the shutdown and about 40 to 50 private contractors.

 While he’s hopeful there may be temporary demand from a mill in New Glasgow, he said no one is holding out any positive hope that it will last.

“We’ve got employees looking already and one guy put his notice in already,” said MacInnis. “If there were decisions made within the next couple of weeks, well at least the guys would have been listening to that, and still be around and still be able to think positively, but when we leave there and they tell us that everything’s supposed to be shut down and again no other information for us.”

Right now, MacInnis said several employees are talking about attending some of the various job fairs looking for workers and operators in other provinces.


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