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Unite the Union in UK Will Fight to Save International Paper Mill in Scotland

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3 November, 2008

With the announcement the week before last by US-based International Paper Co. that its Inverurie printing and writing papers mills is “unprofitable and not financially viable,” ICEM UK affiliate Unite the Union said it will do everything possible to save the mill and the jobs.

The company says the 255,000-tonne-per-year could shut next year. At stake are 371 well-paying jobs in recession-bitten Scotland. A mandatory three-month consultation period between International Paper (IP) and Unite representatives and shop stewards must now commence before any final is taken.

“Our first concern is for our members and their families at the mill,” said Unite Assistant General Secretary Tony Burke. “This is another body-blow to the papermaking industry in Scotland and to manufacturing throughout the UK.”

An MP in the area near Aberdeen met with both the union and local mill management on 23 October. Alex Salmond told the Herald of Glasgow newspaper that two things are clear following the meeting: “One, and it is agreed by everyone, is that the plant continues throughout the consultation period and that means well into next year. Secondly, the management has confirmed that all options are on the table for consideration.”

IP’s Inverurie mill is some 40 kilometres inland from Aberdeen. It has two paper machines, with the No. 4 machine having been rebuilt in 1996. IP’s tentative plans are to cease papermaking and develop the site into other uses.

The mill has been a mainstay in the area since papermaking began near Inverurie in 1852. The American company, Federal Paper Board, bought the family-owned Tait paper mill in 1989. In 1996, IP acquired the mill when it took over Federal Paper Board and its three paper mills, several wood operations, and some 700,000 acres of forestlands, mainly in the US southeast.