Innovation, Trade and Rural Development
April 17, 2009

Provincial Government is Committed to Displaced Workers

In the wake of AbitibiBowater’s decision to seek creditor protection in the United States and Canada, the Williams Government is committed to ensuring that the company honours its obligations and provides entitled severance to displaced workers in the province’s Central Region. The Provincial Government’s top priority in discussions with AbitibiBowater, the Federal Government, and potential trustees is to safeguard the interests of displaced workers.

"The Provincial Government recognizes the concerns and emotions currently being experienced by workers that were forced out of work when AbitibiBowater opted to cease its operations in Newfoundland and Labrador," said the Honourable Shawn Skinner, Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development and Chair of the Ministerial Task Force. "Premier Williams has been in touch with union leadership today assuring them that the issue of severance is a priority for this government. AbitibiBowater has an obligation to these people and the Provincial Government will take steps to ensure that severance is provided."

At this time, AbitbiBowater is seeking creditor protection and it has not filed for bankruptcy. The company will use this process to deal with its debt burden for the benefit of all stakeholders. The company’s normal day-to-day operations are continuing during the restructuring process.

"The company has indicated that severance is not available at this time," said Minister Skinner. "However, AbitibiBowater is not bankrupt and there have been many companies who have come out of creditor protection to resume normal operations and commitments to former employees. We are hopeful that this will continue, and in the interim will impress upon the company that their obligations should not be compromised. As a government, we intend to keep their feet to the fire, keep their officials accountable and ensure that the workers receive the appropriate documentation to file EI claims."

"Given the forestry’s overall importance in the national economy, there is tremendous opportunity for the Federal Government to support workers during this trying time," said Minister Skinner. "The forestry employs twice the number of workers as the automobile sector. With this in mind, I encourage the Federal Government to step up and provide similar levels of support."

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Media contact:
Scott Barfoot
Director of Communications
Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development
709-729-4570, 690-6290
Scottbarfoot@gov.nl.ca

2009 04 17                                                     4:50 p.m.

 


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