The union representing workers at the Kamloops pulp mill says it fully supports Kruger’s impending acquisition of Montreal.
Unifor Local 10B president Sheldon Morris told NL News they had been hearing rumors about the sale over the past few weeks, adding they were ‘very happy’ Kruger would become the new owner. .
“They’re in containerboard, biometrics, real estate, wines, spirits, energy… you name it. They’re kind of a very diverse company,” Morris said. “So, yeah, we’re excited to meet them over the next few weeks and see what their vision for the factory is.”
Still, he noted they will have questions for Kruger when company officials come to meet with union representatives in the coming weeks, including the future of the plant itself.
“We’ve had huge turnover and retirees over the last five to seven years,” Morris said. “We have a lot of young workers here who are starting their careers and they would like to see this plant running for another 20 to 30 years.
“It’s one of the best pulp mills in British Columbia. It’s sort of one of the beacons when it comes to pulp mills in British Columbia and now, with Kruger on board, we’re very excited about the future of this mill.
Kruger officials told NL News they would not comment further publicly on their plans for the plant until they can first meet with their new employees and finalize the acquisition in the coming weeks.
Mayor Ken Christian also thinks the sale of the Kamloops pulp mill to Kruger will be a good move for employees, calling it a “great addition to the economic landscape” of the city.
“Kruger is a Canadian company with an excellent track record. They are a major supplier of paper products in North America and I think they view this mill as an integral part of their business,” Christian told NL News.
“When I arrived, it was the Weyerhaeuser factory, then it became the Domtar factory and now it will be the Kruger factory. Names change and owners change, but I think the safety record and contribution to the economy will remain the same.
Christian adds that he was informed of the sale three weeks ago, noting that the City plans to meet with the new owners of the plant as soon as possible.
“Taxation is definitely a topic of conversation,” he said. “We also want to tell them about the new overhead conveyor. We want to tell them about some of the environmental initiatives and some of their energy conservation initiatives.
“[We also want to talk about] Domtar lands and industrial expansion as well as secondary access to the plant site. There are a number of projects we look forward to telling them about.
The sale of the plant to Kruger – required by Canada’s Competition Bureau as part of Domtar’s $3 billion merger with Paper Excellence of Richmond – is expected to close by the end of next month.
The pulp mill is a major employer in Kamloops with approximately 350 workers. It is also the city’s largest taxpayer, paying about $5 million in property taxes each year.
– With files from Paul James