December 19, 2008 (Revised)
1. When will the Canal Flats, Elko and Cranbrook Finger Joint Mills shutdown in the first Quarter of 2009?
For Canal Flats and Elko, all scheduled workdays for the weeks of January 12, 2009 and January 19, 2009. In addition, all mills are likely to be required to curtail production by 25% for the rest of the quarter. This will result in an additional 10 sawmill days. The company will confirm these additional shutdowns and the days that have been selected upon receipt of a response to our application to benefit from the Work Share program. Should our application be accepted, and should it be necessary to curtail production, we would do so at the rate of one day per week for 10 weeks, beginning the week of January 26, 2009.
The Cranbrook Finger Joint Plant will be down for the month of January 2009.
2. What impacts will these shutdowns have on the Forest Resource Management (FRM) Group harvesting activities?
The FRM Group will reduce its harvesting activities by the equivalent of approximately 125,000 cubic metres or 13 winter harvesting days.
3. Why is Tembec planning these shutdowns?
As result of the world financial economic turmoil and the poor housing market in the United States there are not markets for our lumber products. For example the current price for SPF #2 and better is US$165 per thousand board feet; the lowest price in a generation, when the 15% softwood lumber taxis considered. As a result, to conserve cash we are reducing the harvesting of logs, production of lumber until markets return and prices improve.
4. Is this the only option available? Have you considered other options?
We considered numerous options, however the best solution is to follow the announced shutdowns plans to conserve cash so we can whether this economic downturn to be to resume operations and provide jobs when the markets do return in the future.
5. How long is the shutdown for?
In an earlier message the company announced the mills will close from December 22, 2008 to January 2, 2009. The Canal Flats and Elko mills will resume production for the week of January 5, 2009 and then take a shutdown for the weeks of January 12 and January 19, 2009.
6. What work will be done during the shutdown or reduced production periods?
There will be limited work available during the shutdown periods. The FPG and FRM General Managers will determine needs for their sites.
7. Will there be access to other employment within Tembec?
There maybe employment opportunities at the Skookumchuk pulp mill. We contacted the pulp mill, they will inform us of any work and we will let you know the opportunity as soon as we can.
8. What will happen to our health and welfare benefits?
Benefit coverage will continue for the duration of the shutdown as outlined in the master agreement between Tembec and the USW.
9. What will happen to employees that are on short or long-term disability?
The employees concerned will continue with coverage until they are deemed fit to work.
10. What will happen to the monthly pension for retired employees?
Employees will continue to receive pension benefits.
11. Will laid off employees be eligible for Employment Insurance?
Yes, we have applied for WORKSHARE benefits and will let you know when approved.
12. What is the impact of Christmas and New Year Statutory holidays have on receiving Employment Insurance (EI)?
We have been informed by Service Canada, if employees are laid off during the time of the statutory holiday, they must report those earnings for the week the holiday falls. Thus more than likely, employees will not receive any EI for Christmas week and about 50% EI for New Year week.
13. What impact will holiday pay have on receiving holiday pay?
Should employees elect to receive holiday pay on January 14, Service Canada states laid off employees must report holiday earnings starting the week of Jan 14 based upon their normal weekly earnings, then EI will allocate those weekly holiday earnings every week going forward (even though working or laid-off) until the holiday pay total is exhausted. This may impact workshare as well.
The only way to avoid the impact of holiday pay EI is to forego requesting and receiving holiday pay until normal operations resume later in the year.
Employees wanting to change their decision on taking holiday pay on Jan. 14 (they have already sent the blue request to payroll) should contact Leanna before Dec. 23 at local 228 or direct line 250-426-9228 in Payroll.
Employees requiring a ROE must advise the Field Clerk at your operation or Payroll Department by Dec. 23, 2008
For more information employees can call EI Call Centre at 1-800-7218 or website http://www1.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/ei/menu/eihome.shtml (**note - all external links like this one navigates you away from the Elko Echo blog. Use your "back" button to return.)
14. Are there any special measures to help employees?
Employees can still rely on the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through Brown and Crawshaw. The telephone number is 1-800-668-2055.
15. If we have questions, with whom should we contact for information?
As usual, you should communicate with the General Manager of your business unit or with Roland Kemperman in Human Resources.