Abitibi conducting company-wide revamp

With news last week that staff have been cut at the local mill, and more rumoured to be let go today, Abitibi-Consolidated confirmed late Friday that similar layoffs are taking place in all its operations.
Abitibi corporate affairs director Denis Leclerc said the reorganization process is a continuation of the in-depth review of its operations on the production side which began in January, 2005.
That review led to the closure of several mills, including Kenora, Stephenville, and Sheldon, and initiated the sales process of the Fort William mill.
“In the fall, we started an in-depth review of all the support functions—administrative, clerical, and sales,” noted Leclerc.
“And we’re doing that across the organization, at the head office and at each operation,” he said, adding the whole process won’t be finalized for at least a few weeks, if not several months.
Leclerc said the company has two major objectives in this reorganization process: to reduce costs on a global basis and “to increase efficiencies by assuring best practices and creating synergies.”
“There will be jobs eliminated,” he acknowledged. “Since you’re merging jobs sometimes, you’ll have one person too many. It’s part of the initiative.
“That’s why we have to meet with the people and make sure we’re doing it the best way possible,” he remarked.
“Since it’s a process, it’s difficult to know how many people will be affected,” Leclerc added. “It’s on an ongoing basis. But we can say what we’re trying to do overall is reduce our costs by 20 percent.
“However, 20 percent costs is not 20 percent people. It depends,” he stressed. “That’s why it’s difficult to say how many people will be affected by this reorganization of administrative, managerial, and sales functions.”
Leclerc said “every mill, including head office, including the sales office, every location, every business unit will have to contribute to this new reality.”
“We’ve done it with production. You have to align your support functions respectively, so that’s what we’re doing,” he explained.
In related news, Leclerc said the Fort Frances mill is facing a major issue with its co-gen facility, which is using expensive natural gas to run.
As such, the company currently is investigating using biomass to run a “hog fuel boiler” here.
“We hope that we’ll find a viable long-term solution for the mill,” noted Leclerc. “We want to make sure that this mill gets back to profitability.”