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Restigouche County workers and community oppose closures of paper Mill

January 6, 2008: Demonstration in Dalhousie, NB against closure of AbitibiBowater Mill
THE WORKERS and the local population of the Restigouche River valley in the most northern part of New Brunswick are waging a determined struggle to oppose the closure by AbitibiBowater - a newly merged forestry monopoly of the giant Abitibi and Bowater monopolies - of its newsprint mill in Dalhousie. Citing the euphemism of "rising costs", AbitibiBowater pronounced the closure of the mill on November 29 as part of its anti-labour "restructuring" that also included the shut down of mills and paper machines in Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario and in the southern United States.

The closure will leave over 550 people unemployed in the small town of just over 3,600. The Dalhousie mill is the biggest employer in the region and its closure will greatly impact the workers and their communities, including the people of the Gaspé Peninsula to the north. It is one more blow to the forestry industry and the economy of New Brunswick and especially to the north of the province that has already been affected by mill closures in the Miramichi region and Bathurst. Of the 85 mills that were operating in New Brunswick in 1995, there are only 16 today considered fully operational. The others have either been closed or are operating at very reduced levels. As part of the crisis of the forestry industry that is affecting Canada, New Brunswick lost 7,500 direct and indirect jobs from the sector in 2007 alone.

Dalhousie workers and the local population have formed the Citizens' Coalition to Save the Mill. Most active amongst them are the retirees who have spent all their working lives at the mill. They refuse to accept that what they have built and fought for over the years can be squandered to satisfy the AbitibiBowater empire builders. They are waging mass actions to rally the community. They warn the provincial government that it has to uphold its social responsibility towards the livelihoods of the people and the economy of the province. Shunpiking vigorously supports this struggle, and is posting below a recent interview by TML Daily with a spokesperson for the Coalition to provide our readers with updated information.

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