Executives at the Quebec and Ontario Paper Co. in Thorold, Ont., hope to reopen the newsprint mill Tuesday if a new contract is approved by all the eight unions that have been striking since mid-August.
The three locals of the Canadian Paperworkers Union, which represents 413 of the 530 striking workers, Thursday approved a new tentative agreement.
Tentative agreement was reached early Friday with unions representing the electricians, machinists, carpenters and pipecutters. Members of those unions are to vote on the pact today.
Meanwhile, negotiations were continuing Friday with the International Longshoremen's Association, which represents 16 striking workers.
A company spokesman said all agreements reached so far are similar. No details of the pacts were released, pending settlement by all eight unions.
If the plant resumes production Tuesday as hoped, the spokesman said it will take about a week before full output can resume. But, he continued, the company will be able to sell newsprint, which has been stored in its warehouses since the CPU struck on Aug. 14.
The CPU strike later was joined by the other unions.
The Thorold mill normally produces 900 metric tons of newsprint daily.
The main issue sparking the strike appeared to be the company's desire for contract changes that would give it more flexibility over work assignments and the company's intention to end or reduce the number of holiday shutdowns of the mill, which numbered five in the old contract.
Before the strike, the workers were offered a pattern wage increase established in earlier negotiations this year between the union and other major paper mills. That calls for an 85-cent hourly increase now and increases of 5.5 percent in each of the next two years. The company said wages currently average $18.15 (Canadian) an hour, or $15.85 U.S.
The St. Catharines-based company is owned by the Chicago Tribune.
The Ontario government forced the resumption of stalled talks on Nov. 28 by appointing a mediator to help end the dispute.