Abitibi-Consolidated Announces Ratification of 5-year Collective Agreement with CEP
MONTREAL, July 17 - Abitibi-Consolidated Inc. (TSX: A NYSE:
ABY) today announced the ratification of a 5-year collective agreement with
the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP),
representing approximately 4,500 of its members employed at 12 Company
Divisions located in Québec, Ontario and Newfoundland.
The ratification follows the agreement in principle reached in Montréal
on July 6, 2004 between both parties.
"These negotiations presented several challenges, but we were committed
to working together," said Viateur Camiré, Vice-President, Human Resources and
lead negotiator for the Company. "We are pleased to have reached a sound and
fair agreement based on a positive relationship with the Union and our
Highlights of the agreement include:
- Term: 5 years, from May 1, 2004 to April 30, 2009.
- Wage increases: an average of 11% over 5-year term -
- Year 1: $0.70/hour;
- Year 2: 2.5% increase per employee;
- Year 3: $0.60/hour;
- Year 4: 2% increase per employee;
- Year 5: $0.60/hour.
- Pension: 10-year agreement on pension improvements increasing
Company labour costs by 3.2% over the first 5 years, plus an
additional 2.15% effective in 2009. Employee contributions will
increase gradually from the current average of 4.9% of annual salary
up to 7.5% by 2009.
- Benefits: the agreement provides for reasonable improvements and
increase in employees contributions in the area of group insurance.
- Job security: renewed and updated provisions to existing clauses.
The total impact on the Company's labour costs over the 5-year term of
the agreement will be 14.3%.
Prior to the previous contract's expiry, the Union and the Company
undertook a new approach to the overall process. First, negotiations on
contract language clauses as well as all local issues were undertaken before
main agenda talks began. These local negotiations were successfully concluded
prior to the expiry of the 1998-2004 collective agreement. Then, final round
discussions centred on monetary issues. This new approach helps support the
Company's ongoing employee relations' efforts.
"Abitibi-Consolidated remains committed to being the lowest-cost producer
in North America," stated John Weaver, President and CEO. "The challenge for
our employees is to increase productivity and maximize our margins per tonne."
Abitibi-Consolidated is a global leader in newsprint and uncoated
groundwood (value-added groundwood) papers as well as a major producer of wood
products, generating sales of $5.4 billion in 2003. With over 15,000
employees, excluding PanAsia, the Company does business in approximately 70
countries. Responsible for the forest management of 17.5 million hectares,
Abitibi-Consolidated is committed to the sustainability of the natural
resources in its care. The Company is also the world's largest recycler of
newspapers and magazines, serving 17 metropolitan areas with more than 11,200
Paper Retriever(R) collection points and 14 recycling centres in Canada, the
United States and the United Kingdom. Abitibi-Consolidated owns or is a
partner in 27 paper mills, 22 sawmills, 4 remanufacturing facilities and 1
engineered wood facility in Canada, the U.S., the UK, South Korea, China and