Layoffs in Témiscaming: “I am convinced that our city will rise”

More than 300 people gathered in Témiscaming Tuesday evening to demand that the activities of the cellulose factory in their municipality be maintained. Gathered at the invitation of the mayors of Témiscaming, Pierre Gingras, and Kipawa, Norman Young, the population was well aware of the urgency of the situation.

The American company Rayonier Advanced Materials (RYAM) announced a month ago that it was completely closing its high purity cellulose (CHP) production line for an indefinite period.

The closure announced for July 2 will result in the layoff of 275 people.

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Two other production lines remain open at the plant, namely cardboard production and high-yield pulp production.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jessica Gélinas

July, we will not see the future of this factory. There will be so many people who will leave and go to work elsewhere that there will no longer be any possibility of redistributing this equipment. It takes experienced operators to be able to restart the factory, but they will all be gone”,”text”:”If it closes on July 2, we won’t see the future of this factory. There will be so many people who will leave and go to work elsewhere that there will no longer be any possibility of redistributing this equipment. It takes experienced operators to be able to restart the factory, but they will all be gone”}}”>If it closes on July 2, we won’t see the future of this factory. There will be so many people who will leave and go to work elsewhere that there will no longer be any possibility of redistributing this equipment. It takes experienced operators to be able to restart the factory, but they will all be gonementions Roger Gauthier, who was president of the union at the Témiscaming plant from 2011 to 2018.

week ortwo, things have to move”,”text”:”We have a week or two left, things have to move”}}”>We have a week or two left, things have to movehe adds, worrying about what could happen if the decision is upheld.

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Roger Gauthier believes that the cellulose factory is still profitable.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-Marc Belzile

People will leave their house, they will give it back to the bank and they will leave. Our whole city will fall to the ground.

A quote from Roger Gauthier, former president of the Témiscaming factory union

Roger Gauthier directly calls on the Quebec government. It is precisely to demand intervention from the provincial government that the mayors of the two municipalities brought the citizens together.

From the start we didn’t know what was happening, that’s the problem. We hope that they do not just listen to what RYAM says, that it is not profitable, that the equipment is too expensive and that they will listen to another message before making a decision, specifies the mayor of Témiscaming, Pierre Gingras. In particular, he wants the Quebec government to force the company to sit down with them to try to find solutions.

Pierre Gingras would particularly like the founder of Tembec, Frank Dottori, to be heard by the company and by Quebec. The retired businessman assures that the factory can still be profitable. Tembec owned the plant before the Quebec company was purchased by RYAM in 2017.

This is a factory with viable operations. There’s no reason for it to close. This is the message we want to send to the government of Quebecsays the mayor of Kipawa, Norman Young.

>>Normand Young and Pierre Gingras pose together after a meeting with the population.>>

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The mayor of Kipawa, Norman Young, and the mayor of Témiscaming, Pierre Gingras, joined forces to demand the maintenance of the cellulose plant.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-Marc Belzile

The two elected officials spent part of the evening trying to reassure the citizens present at the meeting on Tuesday evening, but the concern remained very present.

At the time it was said that there were four to five related jobs for each stationery job lost. To see these people lose their jobs is big, Pierre Leboeuf tells us. Now retired, he worked at the factory for 31 years. He spent practically his entire life in Témiscaming.

What’s sad about that too is that the people here, they are the people who built the factory, who have it in their hearts, they don’t want to see it close. What would happen to our cute little village that everyone loves if all the people disappear or leave?worries Suzanne Aubin, who also worked at the factory for several years.

>>A few people are chatting around Suzanne Aubin in a room in Témiscaming.>>

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Suzanne Aubin wanted to attend the meeting to show solidarity with all those who could lose their jobs at the Témiscaming factory.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-Marc Belzile

We will continue to fight, that’s for sure.

A quote from Stéphane Lefebvre, president of the Témiscaming factory workers’ union

The president of the factory employees’ union, Stéphane Lefebvre, specifies that he wants to organize a meeting between the president of the FTQ, Magali Picard, Prime Minister François Legault and the MP for the Rouyn-Noranda–Témiscamingue constituency, Daniel Bernard.

It’s a lack of respect at the moment, they are missing from the file and it has to stophe says.

: “No, we refuse to sell it. You do not have the right to buy our factory.” There we would have much more power”,”text”:”Why Quebec lets an American company buy a Quebec company ? Why did they let it go? They should have said: “No, we refuse to sell it. You do not have the right to buy our factory.” There we would have much more power”}}”>Why does Quebec let an American company buy a Quebec company? Why did they let it go? They should have said: “No, we refuse to sell it. You do not have the right to buy our factory.” There we would have much more powerbelieves for his part Roger Gauthier, who is of the opinion that the sale to the Americans sounded the death knell for the high purity cellulose factory.

>>More than 300 people listen to the elected officials on a stage.>>

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The speeches of the mayors of Kipawa and Témiscaming and that of the union president were applauded on numerous occasions by those present.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-Marc Belzile

A vast mobilization to come

The mayor of Témiscaming, Pierre Gingras, took advantage of the evening to invite the population to a large gathering planned for the coming days, the date of which has yet to be confirmed.

We’re going to need you guys if we want this factory to leave.

A quote from Pierre Gingras, mayor of Témiscaming

You will be asked to go out into the street with your children, your parents, your cousins, your aunt, your uncle, anyone. We are going to need to have full rooms and full streets with the entire population to demonstrate to the government that we are really seriousthen launched Pierre Gingras.

I am convinced that our city will rise. We have always been resilient people with a unique strength of character in our region and we have always had to fight and work hard to achieve our goal., added retired worker Pierre Leboeuf. He assures that he will respond positively to the call launched by the mayor.

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