Twelve positions were eliminated at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper on Thursday morning.
The 12 jobs were all unionized and the workers are represented by Unifor. Eight of the positions were from Local 64 and four were from Local 242.
Local 64 president Chris Hawkins said the move by parent company Kruger wasn’t entirely unexpected, but there had been talks recently of co-operation on a cost-saving strategy.
“They came out with this a bit sooner than expected,” said Hawkins, who was notified of the decision at 10 a.m. Thursday.
“We thought it may come, but we were a bit surprised by it.”
A ruling in January by the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed a duty on Canadian newsprint exported to the United States. Kruger was tagged with a preliminary tariff of 9.93 per cent on all uncoated groundwood paper, such as newsprint, sold to the U.S.
About half the Corner Brook mill’s annual production, around 120,000 tonnes, is made for the U.S. market.
“That’s the reason behind it, yes,” Hawkins said when asked if the cuts were related to the proposed tariff.
He said his local is still in talks with Kruger and the company is saying it is looking at creating four new positions, with the remaining to be taken care of by attrition.
“You can believe that how you want to believe it,” said Hawkins. “A layoff is a layoff.”
The four Local 242 positions lost were near the bottom of the pool and were currently unfilled.
NOTE: Edited to correct the name of the union