Some small-business owners working on contract for AbitibiBowater who have yet to be paid by the floundering paper giant are frustrated with the provincial government's apparent lack of interest in their case.
The business owners, many of them independent contractors, are owed varying amounts - in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars.
AbitibiBowater has sought bankruptcy protection.
The provincial government has committed to covering severance pay and some pension payments for former workers or their surviving spouses, and the business community wishes it would do the same for them. The province has said it hopes to eventually recoup the money from the company.
"If government expects to recoup these costs and their money for severance, these business owners feel, well, they should honour our contracts and recoup the cost at a later date," said Bradley George, the director of provincial affairs for the Newfoundland and Labrador branch of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
"Without this money - and some are owed over $200,000 and $100,000 - this is going to affect our workforce. This issue has not been put out there, but CFIB will be bringing it forward to government."
Kevin Loder of Loder's Construction in Badger was contracted by AbitibiBowater to clean up at the mill site in Grand Falls-Windsor when the mill closed earlier this year.
His company started that job in January and finished in March, after the mill shut down. It was an extensive job, for which his company was supposed to be paid $200,000.
Loder hasn't received a penny, and he says it's time for the government to act. "I'd like to see the government do what they're doing for everybody else," he said.
"Danny (Williams) went and expropriated ... assets of Abitibi. ... The government is saying they didn't expropriate the mill, but they expropriated the land that the mill was on. We're cleaning up the land, so really, the government owned it and we're the ones cleaning up, so they should be the ones to pay."
Loggers didn't have a negotiated contract with the company, Loder pointed out, but the government is still paying them severance.
Suppliers who provided goods to AbitibiBowater haven't been paid either.
Grant's Footwear, for example, which sold boots and work coveralls to the paper company, is out more than $36,000.
Dave Davis of KDJ Enterprises, a contractor in Grand Falls-Windsor, worked for AbitibiBowater for years, supplying gravel and hauling away bark for environmental cleanup. The company owes him $25,000.
"This time, we haven't gotten paid," he said, "and I feel there's a grudge because of the (government's) expropriation."
He said all kinds of small businesses, from contractors to suppliers and food-services providers, are owed money by the paper company.
When The Advertiser contacted the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, a spokesman for Minister Shawn Skinner - who heads the task force dealing with the mill closure - indicated that the government's commitment is to "those displaced workers who had collective agreements in place with AbitibiBowater and have been negatively impacted by the company's actions."
"In addition, we will provide severance to silviculturists and loggers and certain entitlements under the Work Force Reduction Program and Early Retirement Allowance Program," the spokesman said.
Skinner's office said the government cannot get involved with issues involving money owed to private businesses. "These outstanding invoices are the responsibility of AbitibiBowater and we will not be assisting private-sector enterprises," the spokesperson said.