Steelworkers applaud pension reform, time now to save jobs



    HALIFAX and TORONTO, Dec. 20 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) said
Thursday the final step in reforming Nova Scotia pension law is a great
victory for working people and must be followed up by a commitment to save
jobs.
    "The new law ensures that our members in USW Local 1231 at TrentonWorks
will receive the pensions they negotiated in good faith," said USW
Ontario/Atlantic Assistant Director Marie Kelly. "But the issue of loss of
employment is still ahead as a crisis that must be solved."
    Kelly thanked all three parties in the Nova Scotia legislature for
quickly approving the amendments to protect pensions. Now, she said it is time
for federal government to step in and do its part to ensure that jobs and
economic activity are sustained in the province, especially at TrentonWorks.
    When Oregon-based owner Greenbrier Companies announced the closure of
TrentonWorks, the company informed USW members that their pension plan would
have a solvency deficiency of about 10 per cent when it was wound up. More
significantly, it declared that it was under no obligation under the Pension
Benefits Act to fund that solvency deficiency.
    Under the previous legislation, an employer was not under any obligation
to fully fund a pension plan at the time of wind-up if there is a solvency
deficiency.
    Now, with amendments proclaimed into law, Nova Scotia joins Ontario,
British Columbia and Alberta in providing protections for pension plan members
at the time of wind-up. Employers are compelled to fund solvency deficiencies,
ensuring that plan members receive promised benefits.
    "The amendments bring Nova Scotia's pension regime into the
21st century," said Kelly. "Companies that have the ability to pay will no
longer be able to avoid their promised pension plan obligations."
    At the same time, Local 1231 President Dave Fanning said, "I am reminded
daily of the devastation that the closure of TrentonWorks has placed on the
members that worked there."
    Kelly said the USW will fight hard to help rebuild the lives of
TrentonWorks employees. She has written to local Member of Parliament, Defense
Minister Peter MacKay, calling on him to bring together representatives of the
federal and provincial governments, along with the company and union, to work
towards making sure that full disclosure and information will lead to a
purchase of TrentonWorks that will mean jobs and a future for Nova Scotians.
    "We need a purchaser who is committed to the long term," she said. "This
is all about communities and having jobs that sustain those communities."

    The USW represents more than 280,000 men and women working in every
sector of Canada's economy.




For further information:

For further information: Marie Kelly, (416) 705-3627; Wayne Fraser, 
(Ontario/Atlantic Director), (416) 243-8792, (416) 577-4045


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