Abitibi workers OK strike mandate

The union representing 4,500 employees of forestry products company Abitibi-Consolidated says they have given their contract bargaining committee the mandate to call a strike if necessary.
The members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada are employed at 13 paper mills in Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland.
“We expected this result,” CEP president and chief negotiator Brian Payne said today in a release disclosing the results of the strike mandate vote—95.4 percent in favour.
“This message from the membership should help produce meaningful bargaining with the company and a fair settlement,” Payne added.
He said the company has indicated contract negotiations could resume in the week of June 21.
The previous contract expired April 30 and talks broke down in May after 17 days.
Payne said in an interview there has been “some progress” on unresolved issues, including wages, pensions, other benefits, the length of the agreement, and job security.
The workers at Abitibi in Eastern Canada are setting a pattern for industry-wide bargaining covering 25,000 paper workers from Ontario to Newfoundland, the union said.