Mill workers set to take strike vote

Local mill workers will be taking a strike vote sometime before June 7 after negotiations between the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada and Abitibi-Consolidated broke off Saturday in Montreal.
The talks ended following 15 days of bargaining.
CEP bargaining representatives from 14 Abitibi-Consolidated mills in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland returned home and are preparing strike votes at all locations between now and June 7.
Results of the vote among the 4,500 members will be announced at that
time.
“This is a normal part of the bargaining process in the pulp and paper
industry,” CEP president and lead negotiator Brian Payne noted in a press release.
“Our goal is still to achieve a contract settlement without strike action,” he added.
Talks to reach a new labour agreement between Abitibi-Consolidated and its unionized employees at its mills in central and eastern Canada began May 7.
The union is asking for wage increases, as well as improved pensions and benefits, in a three-year contract.
Just why the talks broke off Saturday was not known at press time. CEP vice-president Cec Makowski refused comment yesterday while Payne wasn’t available for comment.
Industry-wide labour negotiations opened in mid-March to replace contracts that expired April 30, with Abitibi-Consolidated acting as the test company for a new deal that would be applied to other pulp mills, including Domtar and Tembec.
A new agreement would cover Abitibi’s employees in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes.
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.