TORONTO, CNW — Unifor members at Sonoco paper mill in Quinte West, Ontario, have been told their mill will close in June of this year due to ‘market conditions’ despite the parent company making a massive $83 million investment in its South Carolina operation.

“The market for the kind of cardboard products made at this mill has never been in higher demand, so I refuse to believe this move is anything but an attempt to line shareholders’ pockets,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president. “The timing could also not be worse as so many families are already struggling with job loss due to COVID-19. This is horrible news for this community and for the forestry sector in Ontario.”

Unifor represents 81 workers at the Sonoco paper mill. The community of Quinte West has a long history as a forestry town with operations in the sector dating back to 1880.

“This is a hard time to process this news,” said Scott Doherty, executive assistant to the national president. “When so many jobs are lost due to very real economic restrictions, to have an essential employer close up shop is just incredibly disappointing.”

Unifor has asked Premier Doug Ford to establish a provincial strategy for the forestry sector to support rural communities and take advantage of the province’s mills and plentiful natural resources.

“Without a strategy to retain key employers and support forestry communities, we could, unfortunately, see more jobs lost as corporations see Ontario as a less appealing place to operate,” said Dias.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 23,000 in the forestry sector. The union advocates for all working people and their rights fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad and strives to create progressive change for a better future.