AbitibiBowater Closes Mill In Quebec

MONTREAL (CP) -- A union representing AbibitiBowater workers says the Montreal-based company is closing its pulp and paper mill in Gatineau, Que. for an indefinite time, affecting about 350 workers.

David Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, accused the company of "cheating its workers out of their severance pay" by closing the mill while the company is under bankruptcy protection.

The Montreal-based company has been closing and selling mills as it reduces capacity to adjust to dwindling demand for newsprint.

The union said Monday that the paper machine in Gatineau was shut down indefinitely in mid-April.

AbitibiBowater officials couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

Renaud Gagne, the union's vice-president in Quebec said the announced closure is especially difficult because it comes a week after employees endorsed a new collective agreement that included substantial wage concessions.

The union said it is also concerned about the fate of 100 workers at the Maniwaki sawmill that supplied wood to Gatineau.

Gatineau follows in the footsteps of other AbitibiBowater mills in Quebec, such as Belgo, Dolbeau and Beaupre, that have closed in recent years.

The company had temporarily closed the mill on several occasions to cut thousands of tonnes of newsprint production.

In October 2008, the shutting of a paper machine in Gatineau was responsible for about half of the 35,000 tonnes of newsprint that was trimmed to balance lower demand.

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