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Abitibi beefs ups security here


Security has been stepped up at the Abitibi-Consolidated mill here after the striking Communications, Energy and Papermakers union turned up the heat on the picket lines last week.

Mill manager Jim Gartshore said surveillance cameras were being used to keep an eye on picket-line activity.

“We’ve got increased activity on the picket line,” he noted Monday, adding some of the about 140 salaried personnel at the mill here have been prevented from crossing the picket line.

“For the most part, people are getting in,” he said. “The police have been down a couple of times.”

The union started increasing picket line activity here last Friday morning, when about 50 workers carried signs at various mill gates “[to tell] them we had a legal picket line,” CEP Local #92 president Mike Drazenovich explained.

And the numbers have stayed up ever since.

“Generally, in any strike, we try to monitor it,” Fort Frances OPP Sgt. Steve Loshaw said, noting salaried personnel had a legal right to cross the line. “[But] we haven’t had any problems.”

“We’ve just been called to keep the peace,” echoed Cst. Mark Boileau, who added police responded to a complaint Sunday morning and laid one alcohol-related charge.

Striking workers began walking the picket lines en masse Friday to protest Abitibi’s on-going negotiations with the five non-striking unions at the Kenora mill, which adjourned until later next month.

The union fears the company will start up that mill once a deal is reached.

“In essence, they want to scab the plant,” CEP rep Cecil Makowski charged Friday, noting the CEP represented only 120 of the 700 workers there.

“So logistically, it’s easier for the company to replace us there,” he added.

But Gartshore denied that, noting it was “just rumour,” and also said there’s been no decision to run the mill here.

But talks are slated to resume here Sept. 15-16 with the non-striking locals of the International Association of Machinists and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who have moved on to main table discussions.

In related news, with the season changing, Gartshore said something will have to be done with the lagoon, which is in standby mode right now.

“The population of the bugs has dropped,” he explained, noting they will have to do something about the temperatures going to the lagoon before it gets too cold.

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