Workers vote to accept offer

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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GLACE BAY, N.S. (CP) - A year-long lockout at a Clearweater Seafoods fish plant in Cape Breton is coming to an end after workers voted to accept the company's latest offer.

More than 100 workers at the Highland Fisheries plant in Glace Bay were locked out in March of last year after failed contract talks.

A tentative agreement between the union and Clearwater Seafoods was reached last Thursday, and workers voted 94 per cent in favour of the offer on Friday.

Workers will see their hourly wage cut by $2 to $10 per hour, they will only work for part of the year and their health and life insurance benefits will be reduced.

The plant is expected to be running again in mid-June, but it will close three months later - a stretch of time that will allow the workers to qualify for employment insurance.

Linda MacNeil, national representative with the Canadian Auto Workers, says it's far from an ideal solution, but it's a start.

''We would love to have seen much higher wages and better benefits, but at this point we're just happy to see that there's going to be an opportunity for employment,'' MacNeil told CTV News.

''That's absolutely our goal, and I'm sure it's the members' goal, to see that plant open on a 12-month basis.''

Velma MacNeil says she has mixed feelings about the new contract.

''I'm not screaming and jumping up and down right now, but it's a contract and it's opening the doors for people that want to go back to work,'' MacNeil told CTV News.

Organizations: Clearwater Seafoods, CTV News, Canadian Auto Workers

Geographic location: GLACE BAY, Cape Breton

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