Mill talks expected to resume Tuesday

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada is expected to get back to the bargaining table with Abitibi-Consolidated on Tuesday.
The roughly 4,500 members previously voted 95.4 percent in favour of strike action should a new contract not be reached.
“We’re all scheduled to be in Montreal Tuesday,” CEP vice-president Cec Makowski said Friday morning. “It’s anticipated talks will be resuming then.”
But Makowski noted that before the CEP sits down with Abitibi, there will be a union caucus, where reps from the 13 paper mills in Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland will discuss any issues brought up during the strike votes at their respective mills.
Those votes took place between May 26 and June 7.
Makowski said unresolved issues include wages, other benefits, the length of the agreement, job security, and what he called “a number-one priority for our members”—pensions.
“We’re very confident we can come to a fair agreement,” he remarked. “We have experience when it comes to negotiating. And we tend to be optimists by nature.”
CEP president and chief negotiator Brian Payne said June 8 that the vote result showing mill workers 95.4 percent in favour of strike action was a “message from the membership” that “should help produce meaningful bargaining with the company and a fair settlement.”
The previous contract expired April 30. Talks to reach a new agreement between Abitibi-Consolidated and its unionized employees at its mills in central and eastern Canada began May 7.
They broke down May 22.
The Abitibi workers in Eastern Canada are setting a pattern for industry-wide bargaining covering 25,000 paper workers from Ontario to Newfoundland, the union said.
The last contract was reached in 1998 after a five-month strike.
CEP is the largest forestry workers’ union in Canada, with some 50,000 members in forestry and 150,000 members in total.