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Union taking look at ‘process’ proposal

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Abitibi-Consolidated said today that the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada executive will meet with presidents of its locals Friday in Montreal to discuss the company’s proposal on “process,” which has been the stumbling block hindering contract negotiations between the two sides to date.

Abitibi-Consolidated came forward with a proposal June 3 that offers joint bargaining for 12 of the 22 demands presented by the CEP. In fact, local mill manager Jim Gartshore said yesterday it “goes a very long way” to meeting what the union was asking for.

“We put a compromise position in front of them,” echoed Susan Rogers, with Abitibi’s communications department in Montreal.

But it remains to be seen whether the proposal can avert a strike by some 5,000 CEP members at 11 Abitibi mills in Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland—including 450 in the two CEP locals here—before the June 15 deadline.

“It depends on what happens on the 12th,” Gartshore noted.

Gartshore said the company issued a proposal that supports what the union is asking for, adding it’s very similar to what Abitibi had done before.

Neither Cecil Makowski, CEP vice-president of the Ontario Region, nor Elmo Whiddon, chairman of the union’s negotiating team, could be reached for comment today.

But a union source said yesterday that CEP president Fred Pomeroy has called the presidents of all the paper unions across the country to a meeting Saturday in Montreal to talk about supporting strike pay for the Abitibi workers if they walk off the job Monday.

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