Kruger pension offer deemed 'lesser evil'
Union leader urges members to swallow pill, accept pension offer
A national union leader is recommending mill workers and pensioners at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper approve a company cost-cutting request that had raised temperatures in recent days.
Montreal-based Kruger Inc. wants to extend the length of time it has to repay a shortfall in its pension plans from five years to 10 years.
The move had prompted alarm among some union members and pensioners leading up to a vote.
But Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union, which represents many of the millworkers, said there is no downside — given the perilous state of the newsprint industry — to giving Kruger more time to shore up its pension plans.
"It's the lesser of any of the evils," Coles told CBC News.
"There's no current danger by extending the period in which the unfunded liability is paid. The danger is the mill gets forced into bankruptcy and things get very worse."
Coles said if the mill were to go bankrupt, retirees would see a big drop in their pensions.
The Kruger mill is the only newsprint operation still running in Newfoundland and Labrador. AbitibiBowater shut down its mills in Stephenville and Grand Falls-Windsor amid a massive slump in demand for newspapers.
Meanwhile, about 40 workers at the paper mill in Corner Brook staged a low-key protest outside the mill gate on Tuesday morning.
The workers are upset that some outside contractors will be doing maintenance work at the mill this week.
The union said laid-off employees should be doing the work instead.