September 4, 2012 - No. 109
September 4 Quebec Election
Marxist-Leninists Call for Majority Government --
Defeat the Neo-Liberal Anti-Social Offensive!
• Marxist-Leninists Call for Majority
Government -- Defeat the
Neo-Liberal Anti-Social Offensive!
• Hysterical Promotion of the Coalition Avenir
Forestry Workers Face
• Resolute Forest Products Wants All the Rights
but None of the Obligations - Pierre Chénier
• Threats to Pensions Denounced by Retirees
• Retirees Continue the Fight
Against Theft of Their Pensions - Interview, Maurice Lalonde,
President, Fraser Papers
Retirees' Association (Quebec)
September 4 Quebec Election
Marxist-Leninists Call for Majority Government --
Defeat the Neo-Liberal Anti-Social Offensive!
The Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ) is fielding
candidates in the September 4 Quebec election. Eighteen parties are
fielding a total of 894 candidates but the establishment forces
recognize only the Liberal Party, the Parti québécois,
Avenir Québec and Québec solidaire. Another party
running candidates in 121 of the 125 total ridings, Option nationale,
whose leader Jean-Martin Aussant was a Member of the National Assembly,
dissed, as are all the small parties and independent candidates.
establishment has involved itself in
campaign, raising the hysteria of disaster which will befall both
Quebec and Canada should the PQ win the election. Always when the
establishment wants to divert the attention of Canadians country-wide
from the attacks it has unleashed against them,
the bogeyman of Quebec separatism is raised. It is a stereotype spectre
which should be put to rest once and for all. In Canada there is one
working class which includes its Quebec contingent and it has one
program: to defeat the neo-liberal anti-social offensive and open a
for society's progress. The fact that
the Quebec people form a nation is a reality, not a time-bomb which can
be used to divide the people at the whim of a hysterical ruling class.
In its call to the Quebec workers, women and youth on
the eve of the
election, the PMLQ points out, "Since the beginning of this election,
the socio-political movement for the vision of society that recognizes
the rights of all has continued to grow in all regions of Quebec and
all sectors of society. Aluminum, construction, forestry and other
workers, pensioners, women, youth, professionals,
First Nations and other groups of people have taken the opportunity to
lead the discussion on what vision should prevail in our society and
what obstacles must be removed to achieve it." The party points out
that the collective consciousness began
with expressed opposition to using elections as an occasion for
political parties to saturate the airwaves with promises in exchange
for votes. It is a fact that the students/youth played an important
role in giving expression to the people's opposition to being used as
voting cattle. Instead, the elections are to be
used as an occasion to give political expression to the demands put
forward by the social movement, the PMLQ points out.
Addressing the hysteria of the ruling class, the PMLQ
"Because they belong to the old world, the neo-liberals have tried to
stifle this consciousness with arguments that no longer hold in these
times of change. They have tried to resuscitate the false division in
the body politic between 'federalists' and
'separatists' that the people have already rejected. Jean Charest, the
faithful representative of the Anglo-Canadian state in Quebec, like a
man who has lost his wits, repeats that the choice is between 'economic
stability' and 'referendums and instability.' The Liberals and the
monopoly media in Quebec and the rest
of Canada have resuscitated the old worn out fear-mongering campaign.
The height of absurdity was Charest's claim that if the Parti
(PQ) were to be elected, the efforts to have an NHL hockey team return
to Quebec City would fail.
"But the Quebec people are a
vibrant people," the PMLQ points out.
"They do not have a morbid preoccupation with death as do the
neo-liberals who represent a dying world which has turned on itself in
its desperate striving for profits. The workers have responded that a
referendum is simply an opportunity
to affirm the vision of the society that we want where the rights of
all are recognized, an
opportunity to collectively decide how to open a modern Quebec's path
to progress, so why all the fuss?
"To the neo-liberals' promises of providing stability
the workers point out that the neo-liberal definition of economic
stability means providing monopoly right with a guarantee. This creates
permanent instability and insecurity for workers whose rights are
denied, including the right to retire in security,
while communities lose all control of their resources and the youth are
made to bear a heavy debt burden," the PMLQ points out. It further
explains that, in desperation, the Canadian monopoly media has said
that if Charest does not meet the people's approval, they should vote
for François Legault's Coalition Avenir
"This would be like shooting oneself in the foot since
monopoly media themselves announced to the world that the CAQ swims in
the swamps of the Desmarais clan that Stephen Harper and company also
inhabit," the PMLQ writes. Despite this, salivating at his good fortune
of winning the endorsement of
the Canadian establishment,
Legault has spent the remainder of the campaign repeating the Liberal
message that the choice is between alleged economic stability or
referendums and chaos. "Jean Charest's Energizer bunny is dead,
François Legault's is charged," the PMLQ points out. It is the
fraud as in 2007 when the establishment promoted
the Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ) -- a party
created out of thin
air in the hopes it would rise to the occasion of championing the
renewed federation of Robert Bourassa, despite the fact the
people did not espouse it. "It was a meteoric rise and fall, signifying
nothing other than the desperation of the establishment forces to claim
a popular mandate. It is an attempted
electoral coup any way you look at it," the PMLQ adds.
"How can the crisis of governance be resolved through a
manoeuvre when the crisis is rooted in the fact that people do not feel
represented?" the PMLQ asks. "This can only deepen the crisis of
credibility of the current system of governance and highlight its
powerlessness to deal with historical problems.
This party system belongs to another time, when the body politic was
divided according to competing private interests. Today history is
calling for people to come together to identify, discuss and solve the
problems that society faces and unite in action to provide them with a
solution. More and more people are coming
to the conclusion that they must no longer be divided by interests
which are not their own."
The PMLQ points out that from the beginning, the
election has been
an attempt to usurp the political initiative of the social movement
that rose in defence of the rights of all. It is being held within the
context of an anachronistic political system designed to bring a party
or coalition of political parties to power, over
which the people exercise no control. How to intervene within the
situation so as to hold the new elected government to account is the
challenge this election poses and which people are addressing.
The PMLQ then issues a call for the workers, women and
elect a majority government based on those who claim to defend the
public good and hold it to account to implement their
agenda, not the agenda of the monopolies.
"The PMLQ believes that
with this election the Quebec people have
the opportunity to provide a timely expression of their will, to take
an important step in advancing the vision of a society that defends the
rights of all. It first requires the defeat of those who promote the
neo-liberal vision in the National Assembly, putting Legault and
Charest out to pasture. At the same time the
workers, youth, women and all those who are fighting for the
affirmation of their rights and the rights of all and have at heart the
interests of Quebec must maintain the political initiative since their
vision can only be realized if the people themselves
can exercise control over the means to do so. The election of a PQ
majority government currently offers the opportunity to express this
desire: to clearly say No! to the agenda of national and social
destruction and say yes to commitments to cancel the tuition fees
increase, to reviewing the concessions to mining
monopolies, to protecting social programs and not surrender to the
Harper government's anti-social and anti-national offensive. It also
means electing candidates from other parties that promise not to
compromise with the neo-liberal agenda and not let the government do it
"The important thing is that it will not be the last
word, quite the
contrary. Under the current system, no party is able to represent the
agenda that the people need. At most, this system allows people to vote
for an approximation of their vision of society, since it can only be
realized if the people themselves have
control over the means to realize it.
"Only the working class is able to advance the people's
society by constituting itself the nation, with the political
expression of unity in action. It is the working class that takes up
the defence of the rights of all, which is the cause of the body
politic comprised of the working people and their families,
not the rich, and this cause is categorically opposed to all
neo-liberal parties and factions.
"If the PQ is able to form
a majority government, how
working class hold its neo-liberal instincts in check? If it forms a
minority government, how will the working class block the operation of
the cartel party system to compromise all the principles the people
hold dear, in favour of neo-liberal arrangements
implemented in the name of economic stability and order? Will we go
into another election only to find ourselves in the same situation?
will guarantee that in the second round the people can more clearly
express their political will?
"The answer to all these questions is the same: the
must continue to develop its independent politics and fight the
factional division of the body politic.
"Let us vote so that after the elections we can go
further to insist
on solutions to social and economic problems that are in the interests
of the workers, women, youth and First Nations. Together we are strong.
Divided by partisan interests that we do not control, we are weak. Let
us seize our decision-making
power by creating our own organizations that are able to investigate
and discuss real problems to provide them with practical solutions.
There is an alternative to neo-liberalism! It is possible to create a
"On September 4, let's defeat the Liberals and all the
formations and the blackmail of a bygone era and elect a majority
government that will be responsible for implementing policies that
serve our interests! Our security lies in the fight for the rights of
all! All out on September 4 to defeat the neo-liberals
and their anti-national and anti-social projects!"
Hysterical Promotion of the Coalition Avenir Quebec
The Globe and Mail, National Post as
well as La Presse and the Montreal
Gazette, have decided to promote the Coalition
Avenir Quebec (CAQ) and its leader François Legault. The CAQ is
salivating at the idea of taking power or becoming the official
opposition following the September 4 election.
According to these propagandists for the Anglo-Canadian state, the CAQ
and its leader would be excellent champions of a stepped up anti-social
offensive, the privatization of health care and education, and the
effort to crush once and for all the Quebec people's demand for
sovereignty, which after all is the greatest
danger that faces Canada today. They persist in defining the word
sovereignty not as the act of a sovereign people taking a sovereign
decision but as a choice of either being for or against Canada.
In this manner, they persist in dividing the people rather than letting
them unite based on the affirmation of their
collective will. The fact that they can only repeat this shopworn
disinformation means they have nothing better to offer.
"Faced with the reality of an
unsustainable state," the Globe and Mail writes of Legault,
"he wants to experiment with the education system, to encourage
enterpreneurship and high-technology skills, and to pioneer more than
the Liberals did with health care. The CAQ presents itself as an agent
change, which is good but also means it is untried in office. The
party's sovereigntist elements are worrying. Mr. Legault, for all his
deep-seated nationalism, says that he would vote against sovereignty in
a referendum during the next 10 years." The National Post
also promotes the CAQ and its leader,
especially for not being instigators of "constitutional squabbles."
On the eve of the election, the CAQ sought to quickly
adapt itself so as to take advantage of this promotion.
Since August 29, Le Devoir has been citing
Legault as evoking "important points of commonality" with the
government of Stephen Harper on the issue of the elimination of
thousands of jobs in state enterprises, such as Hydro-Quebec, as a
basis for exchanging concessions on the questions of same-sex
marriage or abortion.
Legault is now making himself out to be the greatest
opponent of a referendum on Quebec sovereignty and has
taken up Charest's language that "radical extremists" will
take over Quebec if the CAQ is not elected or does not form a strong
Official Opposition. He has become an agitator and
chief fear monger, repeating the disinformation that a victory for
the Parti quebecois (PQ) and the holding of a referendum on sovereignty
will mean turbulence and chaos for Quebec.
According to Legault, a PQ majority would "put
control of our future in the hands of a few radical extremists. The CAQ
is the sole option to rally the overwhelming majority of voters who do
not want a referendum." Responding on camera to a voter's question
as to what is the CAQ's program, he answered,
"No referendum. Heath care and education!"
All of this speaks volumes about the need to block any
neoliberal coalition in the September 4 election and in the period
following the election.
Forestry Workers Face Turning Point
Resolute Forest Products Wants All the Rights but None
of the Obligations
Demonstration against the
closure of paper machine at the Kenogami mill, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean,
November 26, 2011.
Forestry workers and their communities are under threat
and constant blackmail by Resolute Forest Products (RFP). The forestry
monopoly demands every right and guarantee but does not recognize its
obligations. It demands that an increasingly large portion of the
social wealth be diverted to its coffers at the
expense of the workers' claims for wages and benefits, or at the
expense of the natural wealth of the forests and hydropower. It
guarantees nothing in exchange and in fact eliminates a growing number
of livelihoods for workers and communities that depend on the forestry
Recent events have again drawn attention to the kind of
blackmail and threats this forestry monopoly uses.
The most recent example concerns letters about RFP's
pension plan sent by the monopoly to the homes of active workers and
retirees. Stating that the solvency deficit of the company's pension
funds had increased by $0.6 billion in less than two years, it warned
that in the event that it were to terminate the pension
funds, which would be in a deficit position, retirees could lose
between 30 and 40 per cent of their pensions. The monopoly demanded a
"collective effort" to restore the pension's solvency or else risk a
disaster. One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that
it wants to use retirees and active workers,
among other things, to pressure the government to grant it additional
reductions in its solvency payments and even allow it to terminate the
pension fund without troubling itself with the fraud of bankruptcy
protection laws that permit grand theft in broad daylight. The
concessions also target active workers by pressuring
them to accept new concessions in the name of saving what remains of
the pensions and the mills, which RFP closes as it sees fit. In fact,
RFP has positioned itself to extract further concessions, and once
again it is a bottomless pit because it says that ultimately it is the
one who will make the decision.
Increasingly, RFP demands
guarantees for wood and electricity supply before starting any
production whatsoever. As a condition of starting or restarting
production, RFP projects what it claims must be guaranteed in terms of
wood supply and in revenues for electricity production. It imposes
conditions but reserves
the right to do whatever it wants. Workers wonder if RFP's demand for
guaranteed purchases by Hydro-Québec of electricity produced by
cogeneration is just a way to obtain the status of an electricity
producer and sever its obligation to guarantee forestry production. In
Dolbeau-Mistassini, it is demanding a contract
that ensures the purchase of its electricity as a condition for
restarting production but does not recognize that this energy privilege
should be conditional on guaranteeing forestry production and
livelihoods. It could shut down or even refuse to start forestry
production but still make money producing energy with a
minimal number of workers.
RFP's demands are similar
with respect to wood supply:
its projected needs must be guaranteed before production starts. It
demands the absolute right to close plants in order to capture their
wood, ostensibly to ensure timber supply at the factories of RFP's
choosing. One of the favourite expressions of CEO Richard
Garneau and other company executives is that some plants should be
closed to guarantee supply at facilities they intend to keep in
production (for example, wood chips for pulp and paper mills).
Recently, Quebec workers have seen RFP's threats go
further. When the Charest government invested $35 million in the White
Birch empire in the name of restarting the Stadacona plant, RFP
immediately demanded that the Stadacona plant not be allowed to
continue producing directory paper or RFP might
close its Alma paper mill that also produces this type of paper!
Threats and blackmail are
RFP's modus operandi and the monopoly makes good on its
threats, closing plants left, right and centre without any
consideration for the wellbeing of workers, communities and the
industry. It is a monopoly that has failed to ensure livelihoods in the
regions where it operates
but demands that an ever greater portion of the social wealth be handed
over to it lest it take further actions against the population. This
wealth is lost to the workers, communities and First Nations because
they are not yet able to exercise control over the economy and build an
industry that serves the public good
instead of continuing to enrich a private empire.
One thing that has really struck the workers is RFP's
demand to be a political actor in Quebec. At the end of 2011 and the
start of 2012, RFP's CEO Garneau met with the mayors of the
Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region and urged them to join in RFP's crusade to
keep the Jim Gray hydroelectric plant. The Quebec
government announced on December 31, 2011, that it was repossessing the
Jim Gray plant as RFP refused to commit defined investments in forestry
production in the region for the next ten years. In asking mayors to
join him to demand that the Quebec government rescind its decision,
Garneau told them, "Mayors
will have to ask questions too, because it will affect them. We must
continue the dialogue, because it is serious for communities; the whole
region is concerned. We need people to understand the issues and
consequences of these actions."
But seven months after the Quebec government's
announcement, the plant is still in the hands of RFP and nobody knows
the nature of the discussions the Charest government is trying to hold
with the forestry monopoly, as once again they are held in secret. It
is said that the "negotiations" continue. The Charest
government keeps repeating that it does not want to harm the monopoly's
interests and endanger the forestry industry in the region, which is
almost entirely held by RFP. In presenting RFP's role in the region, it
equates the private interests of the monopoly with the public interest
to hide the fact it is RFP that is
putting the interests of the region at risk.
Workers and communities oppose RFP's blackmail and
threats, and hold the government accountable for allowing the monopoly
to put their regions at risk.
Protest against the
closure of the Donnacona mill, January 31, 2008.
Threats to Pensions Denounced by Retirees
Resolute Forest Products
(RFP) recently sent letters about its pension plan to the homes of
active workers and retirees. Active workers of the paper mill in
Thunder Bay, Ontario and retirees in Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean all received
letters -- the media reports estimate that more than 20,000 letters
were sent by the
company. The official reason for sending the letters was to inform
people about the pension fund, but the letters contain blatant
blackmail and threats (not to mention their inherent cruelty toward the
most aged retirees). Without explanation, RFP told retirees and active
workers that the solvency deficit of the company's
pension fund had increased from $1.3 billion to $1.9 billion in less
than two years. It then warned that in the event that it should
terminate the pension fund, which would be in a deficit position,
retirees could lose between 30 and 40 percent of their pensions.
The newspaper Le
Quotidien quotes from one of
the letters RFP sent to its pensioners:
"Currently the company has no plans to terminate the
plan. However, if it becomes necessary to terminate the plan while it
is in a solvency deficit position and the company was not able to fill
the gap, your benefits will be reduced. This reduction in your benefits
could be greater if the plan termination occurs
while the relief measures apply."
Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean retirees publicly denounced RFP's
threat as soon as they received the letters. They referred to the
arrangements granted to the previous owner, AbitibiBowater, by the
Quebec government in late 2010, allowing it to spread its pension fund
solvency payments over 15 years instead of 10. It
was part of the arrangements under which AbitibiBowater emerged from
bankruptcy protection. Pensioners were granted the choice to transfer
their pensions to the Quebec Pension Board and lose about 25 per cent
of their pensions (depending on the funding level of each fund) or
remain with RFP, receive their full
pension for the time being, but risk greater loss than with the Pension
Board if the monopoly entered bankruptcy protection again. Pensioners
said and still say that it is not an option and the only option is to
guarantee pensions for themselves and for all retired workers. RFP had
the audacity to say that its solvency
deficit, which was $1.3 billion when it restructured under bankruptcy
protection, has now reached $1.9 billion and blames active workers and
retirees for its own refusal to pay the necessary amounts to the fund.
"It was agreed that a representative of the [Pension
Board] would notify the government when there was a 5 per cent decrease
in solvency. We have an 8 per cent decrease and nobody has spoken. We
talk about the Northern Plan and the economy every day and we have a
real potential disaster and nobody seems
to care," said Armand Gauthier, president of the Association of
Abitibi-Consolidated Retirees (ARAC), who obtained the information
about the pension fund's solvency. Despite his insistence, Julie
Boulet, the Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity who is
responsible for the Pension Board, the Pension Board
refuses to budge, saying it has to wait for the results of the
actuarial study, carried out every five years before it can take action.
Gauthier added that the pension issue has become an
issue in the current Quebec election and that candidates and parties
must take a clear position. Retirees want guarantees from political
parties that they have protection from the government against any
attempt by RFP to terminate the pension plans. ARAC
has begun meeting the candidates in the area to ask them to take a
Retirees Continue the Fight Against
of Their Pensions
Fraser Papers retirees
demonstrate against the theft of their pensions in Edmunston, NB,
January 1, 2010
and Gatineau, April 26, 2011.
TML recently spoke with Maurice Lalonde,
president of the Fraser Papers Retirees Association and Quebec
spokesperson for the Victims of Brookfield. The association was formed
in the fall of 2011 and represents the former Fraser Papers workers in
Quebec and New Brunswick who lost about
40 per cent of their pensions through the forestry monopoly's
fraudulent bankruptcy protection. The organization is called Victims of
Brookfield because it was Brookfield Asset Management which controlled
Fraser Papers and used bankruptcy protection to restructure the
company. Brookfield sold Fraser Papers to
itself and restarted the company in New Brunswick under a new name,
Twin Rivers, legally releasing itself from the obligations to its
pensioners. The former Fraser Papers workers do not accept the
legalized theft of their pensions and are holding actions to make their
voices heard in their demand for justice. They
initiated, among other things, a class action lawsuit against
Brookfield for misconduct and negligence in the management of the
pension funds. The Fraser Papers retirees from Quebec and New Brunswick
were in court in Toronto on June 29. Below is the text of an interview
with Maurice Lalonde on the court hearing
and related developments.
TML: Representatives of Victims of
Brookfield from Quebec and New Brunswick were in court on June 29 in
Toronto as part of your class action lawsuit to recoup the pensions
that were taken away. How did it go?
Maurice Lalonde: Our class action for
Quebec was filed on February 28. We chose three people: a retiree, a
beneficiary whose spouse, now deceased, was a Fraser worker, and an
active employee at the Thurso mill, which is now owned by Fortress
Paper. These three people represent unionized
retirees as well as active unionized workers who worked for Fraser for
15 to 20 years, lost 40 per cent of their pensions and now work for
Fortress. In all, 578 people are represented by the class action. Our
class action is directed at two Brookfield administrators and we are
suing for misconduct and negligence in
the management of our pension funds.
At the June 29 hearing, Brookfield was present as well
as a company called AON which specializes in pension fund management.
The Brookfield lawyers represented the company, in addition to the two
directors who were responsible for the management of the pension funds
and are part of the lawsuit. Brookfield
and its partners say we can't have a class action suit against them
because they are protected by the Companies Creditors' Arrangement Act
(CCAA). They took us to a Toronto court and tried to prove to the judge
that at the time of the bankruptcy proceedings, the lawyers for the
union, management and Brookfield
had negotiated a general agreement which states that Brookfield cannot
be prosecuted following the bankruptcy proceedings.
In our filing we said that there was misconduct and
gross negligence on behalf of the people managing our pension funds.
Our suit is based on an economic statement that was put together by
Michel Nadeau, the former vice-president of the Caisse de
dépôt et placement [the Quebec government's agency which
manages institutional funds, primarily from public and private pension
and insurance funds in Quebec -- Ed. Note]. The economic statement
shows that, for pension funds similar to ours, the yield was much
higher. We say that the directors did a very poor job, constituting
misconduct and negligence, in the management
of the pension funds. What Brookfield has tried to prove is that their
management was not so bad, that they are sorry that we have lost 40 per
cent of our pensions, but that it is not their fault.
Our argument is that in the general agreement there is a
clause that says if there is misconduct and negligence on the part of
people who manage the pension funds, there may be legal proceedings.
CCAA can't protect misconduct or gross negligence, that's what we say.
They say no, we cannot continue because
they are protected by the CCAA and the general agreement. The judge
took it under advisement. A ruling was expected in August.
TML: What about the New Brunswick
retirees' class action?
ML: Edmundston has not yet filed their
lawsuit. They are waiting to see what happens with ours, so as to
readjust depending on the judgement rendered on our case.
TML: Are you involved in other things
besides the class action?
Brookfield members hold demonstration in Toronto, October 15, 2011.
ML: We have held two general meetings
since the beginning of the year. We sent a pamphlet to all our members
who are retirees of Fraser Papers in Quebec, not only those of the
Thurso mill but also Masson, formerly MacLaren, and the forestry
workers. The pamphlet states our goals
for the year, what we've done to date and what we intend to do.
We are working to improve the mandate of the Pension
Board, which manages the pensions of 80 per cent of our retirees. The
pensions of the remaining 20 per cent of our retirees are with
financial institutions. We have had discussions with the Board and
concluded agreements to be submitted to our members.
For example, we discussed with the Board limiting to three per cent the
cushion that the Board reserves on our pensions in case of bad
investments. We will have a meeting on October 3 with the Board to
update what is being done with our money, which they have the mandate
to manage for ten years.
Also, there is the agreement with general creditors in
the bankruptcy protection proceedings, which states that in 2018, 49.5
per cent of the Twin Rivers shares will return to general creditors,
also called unprotected creditors, which includes labour unions,
associations representing management, multiple creditors
and suppliers and pensioners. The agreement provides that for a period
of five years, the general creditors could earn $8 million a year on
income from Twin Rivers, depending on the profits. In addition,
Brookfield is selling its shares in Twin Rivers to fund other projects.
In the event it sells its shares, it must notify
us within 10 days and buy from us the shares that will be returned to
us in 2018 at the same price they received for their shares. A similar
agreement will apply if Twin Rivers is sold before 2018.
For us, of course, our negotiations with the Pension
Board and the shares that will belong to us will help us to address
some of the loss of our pensions.
TML: You are also demanding legislative
changes to bankruptcy protection laws.
ML: We want to change the CCAA, which is
a federal law, but the federal government we have now is not going to
change the law. We tried to meet with federal Minister of Industry
Christian Paradis to express our demands. However, his political
attaché made it clear that while Minister
Paradis is sad about what happened to us, he does not see the need to
meet. We want to amend the CCAA so that employees' pensions are
considered deferred wages and have protected status and priority over
TML: What would you like to say in
ML: When I met the people of the Pension
Board for the first time, they told me the Board was managing nine
orphaned pension funds. When I met them the second time, a month and a
half later, the Board had 13 orphaned pension funds to manage. Everyone
hides behind bankruptcy protection
laws to get rid of workers' pension funds; large companies use
bankruptcy laws to get rid of pension funds. It's an incredible
offence. Without having been consulted, White Birch retirees will now
lose 30 per cent on average -- about $7,000 to $8,000 per year of
income -- which is huge.
I believe one of the most important things is that in
each negotiation, it should be the union's duty to verify the solvency
of pension plans and to ensure that companies put what's needed into
the funds, that they don't delay year after year and end up with too
great a deficit, which allows them to say they don't
have the means to make the pension funds solvent. In addition to this,
you have to play the political card and try to change the laws.
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