Harmac to restart second pulp line
By Toby Gorman - Nanaimo News Bulletin
August 19, 2009
Twenty former Harmac workers who waited more than a year for the mill's
second line to fire up will soon be back at work.
Levi Sampson, Nanaimo Forest Products president, said improved economic conditions spurred the decision to restart the line for the first time since the mill's previous owner, Pope and Talbot, announced bankruptcy 18 months ago.
"We're really happy to be bringing these guys back. They've waited a long time," said Sampson. "They've been on the outside looking in with EIs stretched to the limit or past. Our door has always been open to them as soon as the second line started back up."
Last summer, former employees, management and outside investors fought in court to purchase the mill for $13 million, by investing $25,000 each. Harmac will restart the line mid-September and will also hire an additional 15 workers to bring the total amount of employees to 265. Arnie Bercov, vice-president of Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers Union Local 8, said Harmac is one bright spot in a beleaguered forest industry.
"All the guys on the list who wanted to go back are going back, which is great," said Bercov. "As a union, we're still in tough times with other mills closed with no light at the end of the tunnel. Harmac is a success story in Nanaimo and we hope the community appreciates what we're trying to do here, which is create more good paying jobs."
Pulp prices have been increasing steadily, up almost $50 in the last month to about $650 per tonne, while fibre availability has also improved.
"Obviously we've been watching the markets and had planned to start up the second line as soon as it made sense," said Sampson.