January 03. 2014 5:01PM

Gorham Paper and Tissue to lay off 20 to 50 employees

New Hampshire Union Leader

GORHAM - Blaming a recent surge in natural gas prices, Gorham Paper and Tissue announced Friday afternoon it will lay off between 20 and 50 employees, and run only one or two of the company’s four paper machines.

Gorham Paper and Tissue (GPT) CEO Mike Cummings announced what he termed a ‘temporary restructuring’ in an email sent to employees around 1 p.m. Friday.

“This is a temporary move to get us through the winter, until natural gas prices come back down to their seasonal norms in the spring,” said Cummings.

Cummings said it is unclear how many employees may opt to retire, and the exact number of layoffs won’t be known for “a couple of weeks.”

“It won’t be less than 20 layoffs, but it’s too early to know exactly how many right now,” said Cummings.

GPT uses natural gas to create the steam it needs during the making of paper. Last month, GPT shut down production at the mill for three days due to high natural gas prices.

In a statement issued Friday, Governor Maggie Hassan called GPT’s restructuring announcement “troubling.”

“Gorham Paper and Tissue’s announcement is troubling news, and I have instructed state officials from the Department of Resources and Economic Development and New Hampshire Employment Security to provide every resource possible to assist and support any affected workers,” said Hassan. “DRED officials have been working directly with Gorham Paper and Tissue to identify ways to reduce and stabilize the company’s energy costs, and I remain hopeful that the situation can be improved. I encourage the company to strongly consider any options that could reduce the number of potential job losses.
“It remains clear that we must take steps to lower energy and natural gas prices throughout our region to help New Hampshire businesses and families, which is why I have joined with my fellow New England governors in a regional statement of commitment to increase cooperation on energy infrastructure issues, including accelerating the development of additional natural gas pipeline capacity. I will continue working closely with all of our partners to identify ways to build a stronger, more reliable energy future for New Hampshire.”