Mill reaches end of the line

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Sue Hickey
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Last paper rolls out of Grand Falls-Windsor facility

"It's a sad day for us as we stand here and understand the frustrations of the men and women are leaving the mill today," Labour Minister Susan Sullivan said Thursday as she stood at the gates of the AbitibiBowater mill in Grand Falls-Windsor

Sullivan, who is also the MHA for Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans, held a news conference along with fellow ministers, area MHAs and mayors Thursday afternoon at the end of the workers' shift.

Picture at left: From left, Business Minister Paul Oram, Bishop's Falls Mayor Jody Fancey, Susan Sullivan, minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment, and Baie Verte MHA Kevin Pollard talk to reporters outside the Grand Falls-Windsor mill Thursday

Grand Falls-Windsor - "It's a sad day for us as we stand here and understand the frustrations of the men and women are leaving the mill today," Labour Minister Susan Sullivan said Thursday as she stood at the gates of the AbitibiBowater mill in Grand Falls-Windsor

Sullivan, who is also the MHA for Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans, held a news conference along with fellow ministers, area MHAs and mayors Thursday afternoon at the end of the workers' shift.

The AbitibiBowater mill is supposed to close by the end of March, but it produced its last roll of paper Thursday.

"We are here to say thank you to all these workers and to their predecessors, as well, who have given to this town and to this region over a hundred years a culture and a way of life that we've all had the privilege of enjoying," Sullivan added. "Again, we can't say how much we appreciate all these people have given."

Sullivan was joined by Business Minister Paul Oram and Baie Verte MHA Kevin Pollard, Exploits MHA Clayton Forsey and Ray Hunter, the MHA for Grand Falls-Windsor-Green Bay South.

While the mill is closing in March, the government's work to help the troubled region through the economic bottleneck is in full swing, Sullivan said.

A ministerial task force has been in place for the past year to prepare for the possibility of the mill closing. And more recently, staff from Sullivan's department have been brought in to assist displaced workers.

"We are looking at a number of economic development proposals. At this stage, confidentiality has to prevail with their business offers and so on. That's not something we can share," said Sullivan.

However, government is looking at a number of possibilities for the region. Over the next few months, it hopes to have some announcements.

While different business proposals have been made, she said, it's difficult to put timelines on anything.

"It will take time to do due diligence on all that. The bottom line is that when we look at the use of all these resources, we want to make sure we are getting the best thing we can for the people in the area."

One sub-group of employees that may be harder hit than other workers with AbitibiBowater operations in central are older workers, often seen as too young to retire but too old to be employed. In these cases, Sullivan said, in addition to previous initiatives targeting older workers, government is talking to different businesses and industry, offering them the chance to hire older workers and provide wage subsidies to bridge them over the next two to three years.

Bishop's Falls Mayor Jody Fancey said she wanted to communicate the message that her town is willing to help in any way in terms of economic development.

"I think the reality has struck today that the last roll of paper that people didn't think was ever going to happen, has finally come to an end," said Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Rex Barnes. "It's a sad day for everyone in the community."

Organizations: AbitibiBowater, Sullivan's

Geographic location: Grand Falls, Grand Falls-Windsor, Green Bay South

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Recent comments

  • Ken
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Get a good look at the MHA's in the photo.. Useless as .... To hold a news conference in front of the mill to try and score a political point is sad indeed. These MHA's and town officials did nothing to try and save this piece of business. As for Jody Fancy the Mayor of Bishop's Falls. Her town is that far in debt how would she ever attempt to assit another with economic development? They can barely help themselves.

    As for the post by Sarah .. If the company was not serious why did they (company )come back with two offers for the union to reject? Even the national union president Dave Coles is shaking his head at these clowns.

    Danny didn't show up for the 100th anniversary celebrations either so lets not get our knickers caught in a drawer on that one. Come to think of it he did show up for 40 minutes and left halfway through the ceremonies. No class. ... But to hold a news conference in front of the mill is simply priceless. Who came up with that gem? Sad indeed.

  • jim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    thats all the workers needed to see was these clowns, or should i say politicians standing there when they came out the door. where was the dictator? too busy blaming harper. WHAT A JOKE THESE POLITICIANS ARE !

  • George
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    The reason Danny was not there is this was not a look at me how great I am story. Things like this may make him look bad. His bully boy tactics really worked well both in Stephenville and Grand Falls. Great job Danny boy your dictatorship is alive but not as well as it once was. To see the cabinet ministers there yesterday playing up for nothing more than political reasons was sickening. Your Union and your Government are the two main reasons the mill is closed. With the Government saying that their help program is in full swing causes me great concearn. Help with what exactly? Help with filling out EI forms. Danny must be frustrated these days he cant come up with a way to blame this on Ottawa and our Prime Minister. Look in the mirror Mr Premier and you will see the source of most of your problems. I cant waite to see the back of your head Mr Premier and it wont happen soon enough.

  • Conor O
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Our Premier said of Abitibi:

    I would be happy to see the backs of their heads, quite frankly .

    Well, he has. Now the question becomes, what plan does he have up his sleeve to put people to work in this region?

  • tim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Where has Danny gone?
    This is a tragedy in the truest sence. People on the other side of the Province become emotional when they think of GFW closure and the lack of visibility from the Williams Government. This Government accepted the closure of GFW mill without a whimper, without a word, the cows are coming home,the screaming we got it, we got it, we got it. Where is it now? 90,000 of our people moved to Mainland, left their homes, most of them sold now and not a whimper. Not a job created under this Government, if there is please show it to me.
    Thousands of jobe gone, gone, gone. Never to return.

  • Bob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    And if the Union and workers had accepted the company's last offer maybe they would still have jobs and the tax payers would not have to dole out more money yet again to support displaced workers. I bet there are a lot these workers regretting their vote today. Isn't it better to have a job making a little less money and maybe giving up a few concessions than to be without a job making nothing and now looking for the government to bail them out. No wonder our province is so much in debt. Unions suck.

  • wilfred
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Had the men accepted the companys last offer, the longevity of the operation still would not have been guaranteed. From what I have heard they were using less than modern technology.As for Abitibi-bowater, the companys future depends on the sale of the hydro in Ontario,but this leaves trouble for the workers in Iroquois Falls and Fort Francis.If a buyer is found,these Abitibi mills will face higher power rates.This will probably lead to their closure.The Ontario government is being pressured to do the same thing that Danny Williams did in N.F.L.D with regards to hydro rights.

  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Isn't it funny how Danny is never around to show his mug to the camera for bad news stories.

  • Mike
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    It wont take very long until the whole wonderful Island of Newfoundland will be also closed down completely.

  • Johnny
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Looking on the government's Public Service Commission website, I see advertised 14 jobs with CONA in Qatar. Seems our government is more interested in training our competitors than bringing training programs to Central Newfoundland for this displaced workers.

  • jack
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    This is a sad event, not least because it is a replay of what happened in Stephenville. The times now are tougher than when Stepenville went. In both cases the union was offered an option to try to keep the mill running and they voted it down with the active encouragement of the Govt. Sadly, neither the corporate union or Govt. will suffer. It is not an excuse to say that the mill had to go because the Co. would not commit to invest, nor that the contract must be inviolate. On that last point, rest assured that if a new owner were found, the first order of business will be to open the contract. The union leaders should have shown some initiative in accepting the challenge even if the plan put forth by the Co. was messy and uncertain. Where there's life there's hope. Grand Falls will thrive as never before, just as Stephenville has. When the Govt. get through stuffing Govt. jobs and quangos into GF, the mill will be forgotten except by former mill workers who are in Alberta. Anybody with money should buy up some office space, it will be in great demand when Govt starts the stuffing process.

  • Gary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Regardless of any blame, Abitibi, Union, or Government, I am certain there was not one man or woman working at the mill who wanted to be out of work. What's done is done and I really hope there is some resolve soon for all those who are affected by this tragedy. From the closure of the Bell Island mines in 1966 to this 2009 closure, it is a massive stress placed on families through no fault of their own. I sincerely hope it all works out and I worry about what's next

  • Billy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    I hate to see people lose their employment but what happens when anybody else loses his/her job? Stand in the EI line, look for another job, if you don't want to do that then there aren't many options. I don't know what is expected of the government here.

  • randy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    The task force of useless MHA's won't work this time like Stevenville,where they looked for jobs in Alberta,

  • Fred
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    I'm sorry to see the mill close. However, I am totally disgusted with the way the politicians behaved, showing up to thank them. I agree with what the workers done and walked the other way. I would have as well.

    The politicians will do anything for a vote .
    Now, where is my bucket?

  • cynical
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    As long as Danny is more interested in fights with Ottawa than his own province, there are likely to more of these. Maybe we need to look for change.

  • Sarah
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    frank from nl I really don't agree with the worker's calling the company's bluff! The deal was meant in the intention that the union WOULD disagree so that they could be a one up on the workers. Politics is unfair and people in power know how to manipulate situations to their advantage! This deal was a fake and was meant for a No Response from union. Harsh reality The people in charge don't really care, it's no sweat of their backs! Welcome to the real world!

  • frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    The company made an offer to the union that potentially would have kept the mill open. Typically, the union rejected and called the company's bluff. Old mentality in an ever changing, competitive world. Now the members are reaping what they sowed. It's difficult to understand the union members responses.... I can't beleive this happened . Welcome to the real world.

  • sandy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    Anyone know why our Premier or/and our Deputy Premier did not show support for the workers of this town?

  • JK
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    If only the workers had gone back to the horrific working conditions of the pre-union days none of this would have happened. See, unions are bad.

  • Ken
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Get a good look at the MHA's in the photo.. Useless as .... To hold a news conference in front of the mill to try and score a political point is sad indeed. These MHA's and town officials did nothing to try and save this piece of business. As for Jody Fancy the Mayor of Bishop's Falls. Her town is that far in debt how would she ever attempt to assit another with economic development? They can barely help themselves.

    As for the post by Sarah .. If the company was not serious why did they (company )come back with two offers for the union to reject? Even the national union president Dave Coles is shaking his head at these clowns.

    Danny didn't show up for the 100th anniversary celebrations either so lets not get our knickers caught in a drawer on that one. Come to think of it he did show up for 40 minutes and left halfway through the ceremonies. No class. ... But to hold a news conference in front of the mill is simply priceless. Who came up with that gem? Sad indeed.

  • jim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    thats all the workers needed to see was these clowns, or should i say politicians standing there when they came out the door. where was the dictator? too busy blaming harper. WHAT A JOKE THESE POLITICIANS ARE !

  • George
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    The reason Danny was not there is this was not a look at me how great I am story. Things like this may make him look bad. His bully boy tactics really worked well both in Stephenville and Grand Falls. Great job Danny boy your dictatorship is alive but not as well as it once was. To see the cabinet ministers there yesterday playing up for nothing more than political reasons was sickening. Your Union and your Government are the two main reasons the mill is closed. With the Government saying that their help program is in full swing causes me great concearn. Help with what exactly? Help with filling out EI forms. Danny must be frustrated these days he cant come up with a way to blame this on Ottawa and our Prime Minister. Look in the mirror Mr Premier and you will see the source of most of your problems. I cant waite to see the back of your head Mr Premier and it wont happen soon enough.

  • Conor O
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Our Premier said of Abitibi:

    I would be happy to see the backs of their heads, quite frankly .

    Well, he has. Now the question becomes, what plan does he have up his sleeve to put people to work in this region?

  • tim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Where has Danny gone?
    This is a tragedy in the truest sence. People on the other side of the Province become emotional when they think of GFW closure and the lack of visibility from the Williams Government. This Government accepted the closure of GFW mill without a whimper, without a word, the cows are coming home,the screaming we got it, we got it, we got it. Where is it now? 90,000 of our people moved to Mainland, left their homes, most of them sold now and not a whimper. Not a job created under this Government, if there is please show it to me.
    Thousands of jobe gone, gone, gone. Never to return.

  • Bob
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    And if the Union and workers had accepted the company's last offer maybe they would still have jobs and the tax payers would not have to dole out more money yet again to support displaced workers. I bet there are a lot these workers regretting their vote today. Isn't it better to have a job making a little less money and maybe giving up a few concessions than to be without a job making nothing and now looking for the government to bail them out. No wonder our province is so much in debt. Unions suck.

  • wilfred
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    Had the men accepted the companys last offer, the longevity of the operation still would not have been guaranteed. From what I have heard they were using less than modern technology.As for Abitibi-bowater, the companys future depends on the sale of the hydro in Ontario,but this leaves trouble for the workers in Iroquois Falls and Fort Francis.If a buyer is found,these Abitibi mills will face higher power rates.This will probably lead to their closure.The Ontario government is being pressured to do the same thing that Danny Williams did in N.F.L.D with regards to hydro rights.

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    Isn't it funny how Danny is never around to show his mug to the camera for bad news stories.

  • Mike
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    It wont take very long until the whole wonderful Island of Newfoundland will be also closed down completely.

  • Johnny
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    Looking on the government's Public Service Commission website, I see advertised 14 jobs with CONA in Qatar. Seems our government is more interested in training our competitors than bringing training programs to Central Newfoundland for this displaced workers.

  • jack
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    This is a sad event, not least because it is a replay of what happened in Stephenville. The times now are tougher than when Stepenville went. In both cases the union was offered an option to try to keep the mill running and they voted it down with the active encouragement of the Govt. Sadly, neither the corporate union or Govt. will suffer. It is not an excuse to say that the mill had to go because the Co. would not commit to invest, nor that the contract must be inviolate. On that last point, rest assured that if a new owner were found, the first order of business will be to open the contract. The union leaders should have shown some initiative in accepting the challenge even if the plan put forth by the Co. was messy and uncertain. Where there's life there's hope. Grand Falls will thrive as never before, just as Stephenville has. When the Govt. get through stuffing Govt. jobs and quangos into GF, the mill will be forgotten except by former mill workers who are in Alberta. Anybody with money should buy up some office space, it will be in great demand when Govt starts the stuffing process.

  • Gary
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Regardless of any blame, Abitibi, Union, or Government, I am certain there was not one man or woman working at the mill who wanted to be out of work. What's done is done and I really hope there is some resolve soon for all those who are affected by this tragedy. From the closure of the Bell Island mines in 1966 to this 2009 closure, it is a massive stress placed on families through no fault of their own. I sincerely hope it all works out and I worry about what's next

  • Billy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    I hate to see people lose their employment but what happens when anybody else loses his/her job? Stand in the EI line, look for another job, if you don't want to do that then there aren't many options. I don't know what is expected of the government here.

  • randy
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    The task force of useless MHA's won't work this time like Stevenville,where they looked for jobs in Alberta,

  • Fred
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    I'm sorry to see the mill close. However, I am totally disgusted with the way the politicians behaved, showing up to thank them. I agree with what the workers done and walked the other way. I would have as well.

    The politicians will do anything for a vote .
    Now, where is my bucket?

  • cynical
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    As long as Danny is more interested in fights with Ottawa than his own province, there are likely to more of these. Maybe we need to look for change.

  • Sarah
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    frank from nl I really don't agree with the worker's calling the company's bluff! The deal was meant in the intention that the union WOULD disagree so that they could be a one up on the workers. Politics is unfair and people in power know how to manipulate situations to their advantage! This deal was a fake and was meant for a No Response from union. Harsh reality The people in charge don't really care, it's no sweat of their backs! Welcome to the real world!

  • frank
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    The company made an offer to the union that potentially would have kept the mill open. Typically, the union rejected and called the company's bluff. Old mentality in an ever changing, competitive world. Now the members are reaping what they sowed. It's difficult to understand the union members responses.... I can't beleive this happened . Welcome to the real world.

  • sandy
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    Anyone know why our Premier or/and our Deputy Premier did not show support for the workers of this town?

  • JK
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    If only the workers had gone back to the horrific working conditions of the pre-union days none of this would have happened. See, unions are bad.