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Catalyst seeks to slash union wages

Catayst Paper Corp., the Richmond-based newsprint maker that launched last year's milltown tax mutiny, is now pressing its unionized workers to slash their paycheques.

Catalyst is asking for a 21 per cent wage cut, according to a report in the Alberni Valley News.

And the company that threatened to shutter its plants if it is not granted property tax reductions has allegedly threatened to proceed to bankruptcy court if the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) does not agree to renegotiate up the current labour agreement, according to a senior CEP source.

Catalyst CEO Kevin Clarke and CFO Brian Baarda toured the firm's mills in Crofton, Port Alberni and Powell River last week, and presented information about the money-losing company's finances to its employees.

CEP Local 592 president Jim VanDusen told Alberni Valley News reporter Wawmeesh G. Hamilton that the Catalyst brass "are looking for an overall reduction of 21 per cent."

VanDusen said Clarke set a deadline at the end of this month. The request is to be discussed at membership meetings this week.

VanDusen told Hamilton that the CEP membership "...have already given this company enough... Local 592 is not in favour of giving up further concessions."

Catalyst employs about 770 workers in Crofton, 380 in Powell River and 280 in Port Alberni, according to its web site. The firm shut down its Crofton and Elk Falls mills last year.

Monte Paulsen reports for The Tyee.

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