Bowater Mersey Paper Company Ltd. mill workers voted in favour of contract changes. ((CBC))

Workers at the Bowater Mersey Paper Co. Ltd. mill near Liverpool voted in favour of new collective agreement Wednesday night to help the mill stay open.

It means 80 full-time jobs will be cut along with other concessions.

The vote was close with 51.7 per cent voting in favour of the new contract. Ninety per cent of the 228 workers eligible to vote cast a ballot.

Courtney Wentzell, president of Local 141 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, said the mill will be a "tough place" to work since the vote was so close.

He said he is angry the workers were forced to vote on such sweeping measures.

"I'm a little physically sick to my stomach, actually. I'm a trade unionist, I'm a trade union activist, I believe in unions. I'm a third-generation union employee and the fact that this vote was even allowed to take place, that the burden was all on the work force makes me physically sick to my stomach," Wentzell said Wednesday night.

"I think the [Nova Scotia] Federation of Labour said it best when they said this was the total disregard of the spirit and intent of free collective bargaining."

He said there's a lot of work to be done now that the voting is over.

"You know there's all kind of issues now on who stays and who goes, who gets severance and you know how their pensions are handled and what rights they have left will have to be protected," Wentzell said.

Two weeks ago, parent company Resolute Forest Products said that the Brooklyn pulp and paper mill's manufacturing, electricity and labour costs had become too expensive and the mill was not competitive.

The company threatened to close the mill if they couldn't find a way to cut costs.

Kevin Evans, who has worked at Bowater for last 24 years, said he didn't feel that he had enough time to think about the options put forward by the parent company.

"I guess I don't really feel that I did [have enough time to weigh out the options] because you needed a couple of days to absorb what we were given for a package," he said.

"And then I just didn't feel that you had the opportunity to know where to ask the questions for the information you would have liked to."