Tolko’s Creekside mill could re-open

Employees may soon be getting back to work at Tolko’s Creekside division.

Employees may soon be getting back to work at Tolko’s Creekside division.

On Monday, the United Steelworkers Union and the company revealed they had reached an agreement on a “letter of understanding” that could see several positions eliminated in the company’s log yard to improve Tolko’s competitiveness with the goal of securing contracts with timber importers in Asia — that would necessitate the Creekside mill to start up.

The idea, says the union, is to combine Tolko’s log yards, thus eliminating seven positions for a cost savings of $1.2 million.

That could translate to between 150 and 200 people working at Creekside.

Mark Everard, Tolko site manager, would not confirm that amount and would only characterize the cost savings as “significant.”

However, any potential start up hinges on Tolko’s ability to secure timber agreements.

Everard would not say whether the company was in negotiations with potential importers; he would also not speculate on a start-up date for Creekside.

USW Local 1-425 president Bill Derbyshire suggested late May or early June, adding that because parts of the mill had been idle for some time additional time might be required to become operational.

Talks have been underway between the company and the union since February; the decision was ratified by 80 per cent of mill membership, Sunday.

If the Asian market is secured, the company has agreed to running one shift/three lines, Derbyshire says.

“This is a good news story with the union working with the company to try to get people back to work. That has always been our goal,” Derbyshire says.

Everard agrees.

“The plant committees at both sites and the local are to be commended for their openmindedness, their collaboration and willingness to work together for the greater good of all stakeholders here at the Creekside and Lakeview sites,” he  says.

But the union and Creekside’s plant chairperson think that because of the length of time the mill has been down the company could have a hard time finding people. Creekside went on indefinite curtailment in 2008.