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ICEM Cites Stora Enso for Breaking from Pattern on Contract Labour in Canada

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31 January, 2006

The 20-million-member ICEM, the Global Union Federation representing workers and trade unions in the pulp and paper sector, has denounced Stora Enso’s attempts to break from the pattern paper agreement in eastern Canada over contracting out work at its mill in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia.

The company locked out 600 members of Communications, Energy, Paperworkers (CEP) Union of Canada - an ICEM affiliate - on 26 January after members of CEP Local 972 rejected a bargaining proposal that contained provisions giving managers unprecedented rights to outsource unionised work.

“Paper companies in Eastern Canada have agreed to a status quo on existing contract-out letters and memorandums with our affiliate,” stated ICEM General Secretary Fred Higgs. “Stora Enso’s attempt to break from this pattern is unacceptable and the ICEM will support paperworkers at Stora’s only Canadian paper mill in every way possible.”

In a letter to Stora Enso CEO Jukka Härmälä in Finland, Higgs urged the world’s largest pulp and paper producer to return to bargaining immediately. “The ICEM strongly urges you to personally intervene to amicably resolve this dispute,” wrote Higgs. “We appeal to you to apply the principled custom of Nordic fairness and to direct North American managers to immediately reopen dialogue with the CEP to resolve this dispute.”

The ICEM received assurances from CEP President Brian Payne that the union is willing to reconvene bargaining immediately.

Brian Payne, CEP President, and Fred Higgs,
ICEM General Secretary

CEP Local 972 members in Port Hawkesbury rejected Stora Enso’s proposal with better than an 80% vote late on 25 January. The next morning the company began the lockout after issuing a 48-hour lockout notice under provincial labour code on 28 December. The two sides had been in non-stop bargaining for eight days leading up to the company’s demands for contracting-out changes on 18 January. Such changes would eliminate jobs and severely inhibit job security, said the ICEM.

Stora Enso and the CEP, which has been without a current labour agreement at Port Hawkesbury since 31 May 2004, have agreed on economic aspects contained in the paper sector pattern agreement reached with all companies with operations in Eastern Canada.

The issue of contract and agency labour has become a central campaign issue for the ICEM on a global basis. The Brussels-based GUF believes the rush to utilise contractors and agencies by multinational companies in place of full-time, directly-employed workers is destructive to communities.

To read the ICEM letter to the company, click here.