Kenora plant trimming workforce

KENORA, Ont. —Weyerhaeuser is trimming 100 employees from its Kenora, Ont. workforce, including 41 of them permanently.
Due to a decline in demand, staff at the company’s ILevel plant will continue to take extended downtime in the first quarter of the year, the company said in a news release issued yesterday morning.
Those affected by permanent layoffs will be eligible for severance allowances.
Local operations previously shut down in August, November, and late December as management worked to match production with demand.
There are about 230 on the payroll at the $250-million plant, which began operations in 2003 but only recently had reached full production.
The ILevel plant is one of Kenora’s largest industrial employers with more than 230 workers. It uses roughly 600,000 cubic metres of timber annually.
Weyerhaeuser has announced a number of layoffs and shutdowns at many of its Canadian operations in recent months.
Senior management warned the Kenora community before Christmas of a tough market for the next two years—mainly due to a slump in the American housing market.
“There is never an easy time to announce layoffs, but the new year is especially difficult,” said Bonnie Skene, a spokeswoman for Weyerhaeuser’s Ontario operations.
She said it is difficult to put a timeframe on when those on temporary layoff will be recalled.
Meanwhile, Weyerhaeuser continues to defend cost-cutting measures to shareholders, who are demanding a greater return on their investment.
In a letter to Franklin Mutual Advisers, which own 18 million shares of the forestry giant’s roughly 250 million common shares, Weyerhaeuser chief executive Steven Rogel lists actions taken to date to help improve returns for investors.
Over the last 18 months, management has closed a pulp mill in Washington state, another mill in Prince Albert, Sask., as well as a paper machine in Dryden, Ont.
The company temporarily shut down its oriented strandboard mills in Miramichi, N.B. and Hudson Bay, Sask. on Dec. 22 for two weeks, and announced it indefinitely would shut down its plywood mill in Hudson Bay and sawmill in Carrot River as of Jan. 3.