Layoff notices were handed out to employees at Northern Pulp on Monday in preparation for the closure of the company’s mill on Jan. 31, 2020.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced on Dec. 20 that the mill, located close to Pictou, N.S., must stop pumping wastewater into lagoons near an Indigenous community by the date specified.
McNeil also announced a $50-million transition fund for those affected by the shutdown, including the more than 300 people who work at the mill.
In the meantime, employees received a letter from Northern Pulp initiating “the 120 days notice required effective December 23, 2019.”
Don MacKenzie, president of Unifor Local 440, which represents the unionized workers at the mill, says the company would have breached the collective agreement by not issuing the letter and giving employees 120 days notice.
MacKenzie explained that since the letter was issued in December, employees will only work 39 days out of 120 by the time the mill shuts down on Jan. 31.
“It’s impossible for you to work 120 days now because the plant is shutting down, so they owe us the difference, which is 81 days,” said MacKenzie.
“Those people will receive 81 days of their pay, but they wouldn’t receive it unless we got that letter … That’s a significant amount of money. For a lot of people, it’s probably anywhere between $25,000 and $30,000.”
The letter also said individual layoff notices to employees will follow.
He said employees will have to drain all the tanks and clean up the mill, and it’s expected to take from Jan. 17 up until the end of the month for that work to be completed.
-With files from Alexander Quon