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Mill talks remain at standstill


No new talks are slated between Abitibi-Consolidated and the Communications, Energy, and Papermakers union as the strike moves into its 10th week.

In fact, CEP administrative vice-president Cecil Makowski, who will be in town today and tomorrow morning, said there has been no further communications between the two sides.

“I understand [morale] is good,” he said yesterday, noting he was in town to talk with striking workers about where the union stood--and listen to their concerns.

But Makowski also said he wasn’t surprised by the lull in negotiations.

“This is something that’s not unusual,” he noted, adding it wasn’t any cause for concern. “Our funds are very healthy now.”

Abitibi reported talks resumed Monday with the non-striking unions in Kenora but a spokesperson from the company’s head office in Montreal could not be reached for further comment.

Meanwhile, the union is waiting for the Ontario Labour Board panel to give reasons for its decision to declare the first week of the strike illegal, as well as ordering the two sides to negotiate mill-by-mill rather than collectively.

And until those reasons are given, the union can’t file its appeal.

But Makowski said the recent decision of the Newfoundland labour board that it didn’t have jurisdiction to hear the company’s bad faith bargaining charge there would play a role here.

“It certainly is something that we’ll be relying on when we get our appeal in Ontario,” he said last week, adding that decision was a “major blow” to Abitibi.

And while some unions have been making financial donations to the CEP, Makowski said that wasn’t something they solicited.

“[But] we’re always in a position to be asking other unions for moral support,” he added.

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