Letter to the editor--Abitibi mill worker Fort Frances doubts union direction
August 27, 2010
By: The Working Forest
I am a member of one of the trades unions at the Fort Frances mill who is now afraid that the future of the Fort Frances AbitibiBowater mill is in serious jeopardy because of the actions and poor advice of our union leadership.
I can’t risk charges and retaliation by putting my name here, but I thought people should know about this real danger we now face. I have attached a recent letter from the mill GM that was just put out earlier this week which clearly shows the Fort mill has quietly slipped to the bottom of the Canadian group.
The letter is pretty clear and paints a quite different picture of where the mill sits right now that the one I was told of .. What bothers me so much and makes me send this note is I see in the news that Abitibi loses hundreds of millions every quarter, but we are still being told by our union reps that the Fort Frances mill is at the top and doing great and that me and my fellow members are going to get a better deal than every other Canadian Abitibi mill and their 5000 workers.
I was really starting to believe this might be possible because I thought of course we were one of the top mills around. I was shocked to see the GM put it in print and now find out today that the company is looking at #5 possibly going down 50% of the time starting in October. I fear this is only the beginning of the end for this mill because we all know that if #5 does go down this mill is not sustainable. If we are being told mistruths and Fort being of the top Abitibi mills and us deserving a better deal than everyone else, I am now fearful our leadership is either withholding facts or just doesn’t know them.
We are being told that our tiny group at the worst mill in a bankrupt company is going to buck the company trend, have the best cost structure and still live to brag about it.
I am starting to believe we are all playing a dangerous game of chicken that is pointing a big read target on Fort Frances. I know final decisions are being made about what mills should close an which ones will be coming out of CCAA and I am scared that the Fort may silently become one more closure stat sooner than we think
I have a trades ticket and am probably one of the luck ones if Abitibi decides Fort Frances will close, but I love Fort Frances not Fort McMurry and I definitely don’t want to see the devastation of a mill closure on the people of this town.
Everything has been buried, but I think time is running out and this town has a right to know what dangerous game I is going on behind the scenes.
Concerned worker AbitibiBowater Fort Frances
(The Mill manager’s letter is clear, but I wanted to add some of my thoughts and some context. I must remain anonymous as I fear retaliation by members of an angry union executive who will definitely target me for speaking publicly and for releasing this company letter)
Attached letter August 23 2010 from Fort Frances general manager Derrick Lindgren to union Representatives Brian Short and Brian Murdoch…excerpts
”The mill finished the 2009 year as the worst safety performer of all AbitibiBowaters’s mills…Fort Frances productivity also needs major improvement showing one of the lowest OEE in the Corporation. ..We will also continue to work towards trying to improve the efficiency of the Fort Frances mill and attempt to achieve cost reductions which is obviously critical to all of us in or around the Fort Frances community.”