Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Natural Resources Minister Tom Marshall said Wednesday that the province is prepared to help Corner Brook Pulp and Paper continue to operate.
First, though, the company and its unions need to settle their issues.
Dunderdale and Marshall spoke about the mill at the Sir Richard Squires Building in Corner Brook, where the premier and her cabinet members had been meeting for two days.
Dunderdale said the province has been in discussions with Kruger, the mill’s parent company, and is getting to a place where it feels more comfortable.
“Given the state of pulp and paper in the world, we’re far from being in a place where you could relax and say the future is assured,” the premier said.
She said if the company and its workers are able to resolve their issues, the province will be in a place where it has a plan and agreement with Kruger.
“We have gone to them and we have said that we’re prepared to help,” added Marshall.
“We’ve made proposals and we’ve had very fruitful discussions, but they still have some work to do.”
Marshall said Kruger indicated some time ago that it has to make a determination whether it’s viable to continue operating the mill and, after the discussions that have been held, the province is cautiously optimistic the company and workers will come to an agreement.
Marshall and members of his staff last met with company owner Joe Kruger and members of his senior executive in Montreal this past Friday.
Dunderdale said the province now has to await the outcome of the negotiations with workers. If the sides are able to successfully conclude negotiations, she said they won’t have to wait on the province.
“We have a plan in place where we can all move forward,” she said.
Dunderdale would not comment on what the province would like to see from the company and workers, saying that is part of contract negotiations and it would not be appropriate for the province to get involved or to interfere in that process.
She also wouldn’t say anything about what the province’s plan includes.
“We’re going to show you when all things fall in place and all things come together the kinds of arrangements that we have put in place,” said the premier.
“People will not find them difficult to support.”
The Western Star