More casualties on the paper trail

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Sue Hickey
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Forestry Companies left hanging when AbitibiBowater mill closed want province to cover outstanding invoices

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.

Dave Davis of KDJ Enterprises in Grand Falls-Windsor is one of several independent contractors and small-business owners originally engaged by AbitibiBowater for work but who haven't been paid. - Photo by Sue Hickey/The Advertiser

Windsor -

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.

Organizations: AbitibiBowater, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Department of Innovation Rural Development

Geographic location: Windsor, Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland and Labrador Abitibi

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Recent comments

  • Joan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    If your not unionizes or involved in OIL there's not much Danny will do for you.There's no glamour in helping out a small mom and pop operation for our Danny. There's not much point in talking to your MHA about small business concerns,it's in one ear and out the other.

  • Mark
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    Well Mark, why did the government get involved with paying severance to the loggers?

    Of course the independent contractors and small businesses are going to ask for it when they opened the door by paying the severance of PRIVATE COMPANY EMPLOYEES!

  • jim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    they dont live on the avalon by the way two thirds of the population of the island is on the avalon better start closing down the outports

  • Sunshine
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    The fifteen million paid for fibre optics,was that not a privately owned corporation ?

  • Tracy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    We feel sorry for all the people that the paper mill have left high and dry but come on . The government can not just get up and pay all the bills that Abitibi left behind.If the government starts paying one person then every body should get paid. Why not let the Mr. Danny williams pay all Abitibi's debt.. We the people that have nobody that worked or were involved in the paper mill feel sorry for the stress that a large chain have put on familes but in all fairness Abitibi will not be the first and will not be the last to shut down. I have worked along with my husband in large companies and I am sure if they closed flat we would not get money back from Mr. Williams. I think when Mr. Williams told everybody that they will pay the severence packages from the funds from the river did not think it through. We all know that the money they pay out they will never get back from the paper mill but maybe down the road save from the money that Hydro is giving to the paper mill. I think he just opened a whole new can of worms for more letters like the one we all just read to come forward and look for money..I love the work our provincial Government have done for the province and I am sure they will do other great things but when he told the people he will pay the Severance to them while the people not involved in that industry just said that is not right. Surveys that was done in local papers were answered by the people and they also agreeded that Mr. Williams should not be paying . Maybe Mr. Williams should have read some of the surveys and listened to the people after all that is who put him in office..

  • ³
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    This is too ridiculous for words. I'm speechless.

    Now we're going to start bailing out small business owners who make poor business decisions like not getting a deposit before they start the work ? They knew the gov't expropriated the hydro assets. They knew the mill was closing. Dave Davis and Kevin Loder knew a clean up operation would mean they'd be the last men standing in an empty field. So stupid. Grant's Footwear was on the gravy train for years and didn't see this coming either. None of these companies would survive anywhere else, they were just lucky to fall into the gravy train regardless of how stupid they were. These companies could have been owned and operated by chimps and they'd be successful.

    When a person starts a small business each and every one of them lust to be millionaires, but they all know the only guarantee they will have is that they have to get out of bed each morning. It can go either way. You choose, you live with your choice.

    NO BAILOUTS FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS MAKING POOR BUSINESS DECISIONS

    Where oh where will this end ? Put your hands back in your pockets and get the idea out of your mind that the gov't (taxpayers) owes you something when YOU screw up.

    For years to come, the people of GFW will have a negative stigma associated with them when this is all said and done. What a shame. You should all feel embarrassed. You're doing GFW more damage than good with all this negative publicity. Who in their right mind would hire someone from GFW after this ? The sense of entitlement here reeks.

  • don
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    What goes around, comes around! Danny's Government wanted those Abitibi come from aways gone from this pure and pristine Province. Danny got his wish and those Canadian Mainlanders and their American masters are history! Nothing substantial was done by Danny's Government to keep Abitibi operating in Newfoundland and Labrador. Danny wanted NALCOR to own Abitibi's Hydro-Electric assets and now it does. Danny wanted to lease Abitibi's forest assets to other forestry contractors and loggers who met with his approval and now they have been offered the former Abitibi forest lands to develop. Danny wanted Abitibi gone and now they are. This is just like when Danny was a child, he had to have what he wanted and that was that! This is the adult world now and I bet Danny has discovered that sometimes wanting something is better than actually getting it. That's why there are ancient rules against coveting what someone else has! Now that Danny has all the gold, let him pay all the bills including the severance pay and the future living expenses and moving expenses of all of the people in the Grand Fall/Windsor area who depended on Abitibi for their employment. Good luck with that!!!

  • JD
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    This is the group of people who should be occupying somebody's office.

    It's pointless for them to blame the government for this one. They have to go after the people they signed their contracts with. It doesn't matter who owns the land now...ridiculous comment in the article by Loder.

  • Mike
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    I actually agree with the government on this, as unfortunate as it is, the government cannot get in involved in paying for outstanding balances for a private company. They have to go through the court system the same as all other creditors, perhaps the Bankruptcy laws needed to be adjusted but these private business need to go after Abitibi not the government

  • Brad
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Thats what happens when you open the door for one group, I say if the government has bailed out everyone else, there is no reason for them to bail out these businesses, you can't have it both ways.

  • Brett
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    From what I read before Abitibi will end up having to pay for the loggers eventually anyways, once courts settle the situation, so the gov't stepped in because the money will come - albeit slowly (advise based on their lawyers). The return on debt paid to the suppliers will not necessarily be 100 cents on the dollar, so they should not be paid out, as those suppliers will end up getting paid in bankruptcy court. They will get what's left.

  • Joan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    If your not unionizes or involved in OIL there's not much Danny will do for you.There's no glamour in helping out a small mom and pop operation for our Danny. There's not much point in talking to your MHA about small business concerns,it's in one ear and out the other.

  • Mark
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    Well Mark, why did the government get involved with paying severance to the loggers?

    Of course the independent contractors and small businesses are going to ask for it when they opened the door by paying the severance of PRIVATE COMPANY EMPLOYEES!

  • jim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    they dont live on the avalon by the way two thirds of the population of the island is on the avalon better start closing down the outports

  • Sunshine
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    The fifteen million paid for fibre optics,was that not a privately owned corporation ?

  • Tracy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    We feel sorry for all the people that the paper mill have left high and dry but come on . The government can not just get up and pay all the bills that Abitibi left behind.If the government starts paying one person then every body should get paid. Why not let the Mr. Danny williams pay all Abitibi's debt.. We the people that have nobody that worked or were involved in the paper mill feel sorry for the stress that a large chain have put on familes but in all fairness Abitibi will not be the first and will not be the last to shut down. I have worked along with my husband in large companies and I am sure if they closed flat we would not get money back from Mr. Williams. I think when Mr. Williams told everybody that they will pay the severence packages from the funds from the river did not think it through. We all know that the money they pay out they will never get back from the paper mill but maybe down the road save from the money that Hydro is giving to the paper mill. I think he just opened a whole new can of worms for more letters like the one we all just read to come forward and look for money..I love the work our provincial Government have done for the province and I am sure they will do other great things but when he told the people he will pay the Severance to them while the people not involved in that industry just said that is not right. Surveys that was done in local papers were answered by the people and they also agreeded that Mr. Williams should not be paying . Maybe Mr. Williams should have read some of the surveys and listened to the people after all that is who put him in office..

  • ³
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    This is too ridiculous for words. I'm speechless.

    Now we're going to start bailing out small business owners who make poor business decisions like not getting a deposit before they start the work ? They knew the gov't expropriated the hydro assets. They knew the mill was closing. Dave Davis and Kevin Loder knew a clean up operation would mean they'd be the last men standing in an empty field. So stupid. Grant's Footwear was on the gravy train for years and didn't see this coming either. None of these companies would survive anywhere else, they were just lucky to fall into the gravy train regardless of how stupid they were. These companies could have been owned and operated by chimps and they'd be successful.

    When a person starts a small business each and every one of them lust to be millionaires, but they all know the only guarantee they will have is that they have to get out of bed each morning. It can go either way. You choose, you live with your choice.

    NO BAILOUTS FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS MAKING POOR BUSINESS DECISIONS

    Where oh where will this end ? Put your hands back in your pockets and get the idea out of your mind that the gov't (taxpayers) owes you something when YOU screw up.

    For years to come, the people of GFW will have a negative stigma associated with them when this is all said and done. What a shame. You should all feel embarrassed. You're doing GFW more damage than good with all this negative publicity. Who in their right mind would hire someone from GFW after this ? The sense of entitlement here reeks.

  • don
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    What goes around, comes around! Danny's Government wanted those Abitibi come from aways gone from this pure and pristine Province. Danny got his wish and those Canadian Mainlanders and their American masters are history! Nothing substantial was done by Danny's Government to keep Abitibi operating in Newfoundland and Labrador. Danny wanted NALCOR to own Abitibi's Hydro-Electric assets and now it does. Danny wanted to lease Abitibi's forest assets to other forestry contractors and loggers who met with his approval and now they have been offered the former Abitibi forest lands to develop. Danny wanted Abitibi gone and now they are. This is just like when Danny was a child, he had to have what he wanted and that was that! This is the adult world now and I bet Danny has discovered that sometimes wanting something is better than actually getting it. That's why there are ancient rules against coveting what someone else has! Now that Danny has all the gold, let him pay all the bills including the severance pay and the future living expenses and moving expenses of all of the people in the Grand Fall/Windsor area who depended on Abitibi for their employment. Good luck with that!!!

  • JD
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    This is the group of people who should be occupying somebody's office.

    It's pointless for them to blame the government for this one. They have to go after the people they signed their contracts with. It doesn't matter who owns the land now...ridiculous comment in the article by Loder.

  • Mike
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    I actually agree with the government on this, as unfortunate as it is, the government cannot get in involved in paying for outstanding balances for a private company. They have to go through the court system the same as all other creditors, perhaps the Bankruptcy laws needed to be adjusted but these private business need to go after Abitibi not the government

  • Brad
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Thats what happens when you open the door for one group, I say if the government has bailed out everyone else, there is no reason for them to bail out these businesses, you can't have it both ways.

  • Brett
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    From what I read before Abitibi will end up having to pay for the loggers eventually anyways, once courts settle the situation, so the gov't stepped in because the money will come - albeit slowly (advise based on their lawyers). The return on debt paid to the suppliers will not necessarily be 100 cents on the dollar, so they should not be paid out, as those suppliers will end up getting paid in bankruptcy court. They will get what's left.