Donna Barnett, MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin, stood in front of the Norbord OSB mill in 100 Mile House on Tuesday, June 11 when the company announced the indefinite curtailment of their mill, resulting in the loss of approximately 160 local jobs. Raven Nyman photo.

Norbord ceases production, employees out of work as of Aug. 27

A small team will continue clean-up work at the 100 Mile House OSB mill, other workers laid off

With the exception of a team of 10 millworkers, all other employees at Norbord’s 100 Mile House OSB Mill are out of work as of Tues. Aug. 27.

“There is a small team of less than 10 employees who are responsible for the care and maintenance of the mill,” a spokesperson for the company said in an email to the Free Press on Aug. 27. “This includes mothballing activities which comprise things like ensuring equipment is readied for curtailment, storing materials, and securing the site. All other employees will be off work as of August 27, 2019.”

In an Aug. 21 statement from the location’s General Manager, Stuart Barton, clean-up activities were cited as the company’s current focus, as the 100 Mile House mill prepares for an indefinite curtailment.

“Norbord’s mill consumed the last of its log inventory and ceased production on Aug. 16,” said Barton. “We have established a team of current employees who will be responsible for the care and maintenance of the mill during this indefinite curtailment, including providing 24/7 onsite security. “

Since announcing the indefinite curtailment, Barton said the company’s priority has been its employees.

Read more: Norbord’s 100 Mile location announces indefinite curtailment

“The team in 100 Mile is first-rate, and our decision was in no way a reflection on the quality or capability of our team. It is a testament to their professionalism and commitment that the mill ran so well up until Aug. 16 when we used the last of our wood inventory.”

Norbord has stated that they are taking a number of steps to support those employees during this transition period.

“We have provided onsite training for all employees wishing to upgrade their skills, including in areas such as forklift and man lift operations, and in confined space entry. In addition, we are continuing to provide schooling support for current apprentices, including books, tuition, and cost of living expenses.”

Outplacement services are also being provided to all salaried employees and the union is providing transition support to all unionized employees, said Barton.

“Norbord is committed to working with the union to provide extended six months lay-off benefits coverage for all employees, and we have provided onsite counseling via our Employee Family Assistance program. All our team has recall rights in the event we decide to restart production at the mill.”

In addition to working with the local union and other community stakeholders, the company stated that WorkBC has been onsite on four different occasions, with further sessions scheduled to allow employees to hear about employment services available to them.

Related: ‘Life goes on’: forestry professional strategizing to keep Clinton’s Community Forest profitable

“We have also arranged to have Services Canada officials onsite to discuss Employment Insurance (EI) options, as well as hosting sessions with the Industry Training Authority of BC (ITA BC) and Thompson Rivers University (TRU) regarding options that our team could choose to pursue.”

Barton thanked his employees for their dedication and commitment through this challenging time, and encouraged them to consider services which may make sense for their individual circumstances.

“As a company, Norbord is engaged with the provincial government on industry issues, and we will be monitoring economic conditions on an ongoing basis,” said Barton.

Nonetheless, a spokesperson for the company confirmed that Norbord cannot speculate on future market conditions and therefore cannot predict the length of the curtailment.

“What I can tell you is that Norbord will be monitoring the economics on an ongoing basis. With respect to recall rights, should Norbord make a decision to restart, it would recall unionized employees according to the terms of the Collective Agreement with the union. It would be up to individuals to decide what is best for them, but they would all have the right to return.”

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