Kruger workers in western Newfoundland accept 'essential' pension plan changes

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CORNER BROOK, N.L. - Unionized workers at a financially strapped paper mill on Newfoundland's west coast have voted to accept changes to their pension plan.

Montreal-based Kruger Inc., owner of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, said in a statement Friday the changes are "essential" to the mill's competitiveness.

A spokeswoman for Kruger said the approval gives the company 10 years instead of five to pay back a pension deficit.

Kruger said it also clears the way for the company to present a sustainability plan to its lenders and the Newfoundland and Labrador government within the coming weeks.

More than 900 former and current employees were eligible to vote on the changes to the pension plan, which had been a major stumbling block in contract negotiations earlier this year.

In June, the majority of more than 300 workers at the mill — the last in the province — accepted a new contract amid the threat of imminent closure.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale has said support would be offered to the mill if a deal was reached on the pension plan, though not in the form of an operating subsidy.

Organizations: Kruger Inc.

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, CORNER BROOK, Montreal

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