TORONTO, Oct. 7 /CNW/ - Pensioners, long-term disabled and former Nortel employees are declaring "we want justice" from the Government of Ontario and the federal government, and "we want action now" to overhaul the country's unfair and outdated bankruptcy system.
They are converging on Queen's Park today from communities across Ontario to join in a mass protest rally at 12:00 noon. At issue is the loss of pensions, severance pay and benefits as Canadian companies, like Nortel, go into bankruptcy. Their message is that workers who helped build successful companies are being discriminated against, cheated out of what is owed them and now face financial ruin.
Among the speakers at the rally are Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, CAW National President Ken Lewenza, former Nortel President Bob Ferchant, President of Nortel Retirees and former employees Protection Canada (NRPC) Don Sproule, former CAW Secretary-Treasurer Bob Nickerson and Mary Jane McKinnon, CAW member and former Nortel worker in Belleville.
"This travesty is being ignored by the Government of Ontario and the federal government," said Lewenza. "Governments in other countries where Nortel operated are taking action to secure pensions and not punish retirees for their years of service."
"This is about Fairness. The Canadian Charter of Rights guarantees equality under the law," stated Ferchat. "We want justice for pensioners who stand to lose retirement savings, for fired employees who were denied severance payments and for disabled employees who were promised income replacement while they could not work".
Sproule said: "It's time for our governments to stand up and protect our pensions and benefits. The Government of Ontario and the Federal Government of Canada have spent the past nine months dodging the issues instead of dealing with the inequalities under the law. They are leaving thousands of vulnerable Canadians hung out to dry. We want action now!"
The group will be holding another demonstration on Parliament Hill on October 21.
Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada on January 14, 2009 under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) saying it planned to restructure the company. Since that time about 1000 employees have been terminated in Canada without severance pay. Nortel also stopped paying special pensions and retirement allowances and in May announced that its Defined Benefit Pension Plans are only 69% funded.
Nortel's other benefit programs (such as disability payments and supplementary health care) will stop if the company is liquidated. As of today the company has not presented any restructuring plan to the CCAA court and has commenced to sell off its individual businesses to the highest bidder. The purchasers are not taking any responsibility for obligations to pensioners, outstanding severances or disability payments.
SOURCE Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)
For further information: For further information: Bob Nickerson, former Secretary Treasurer, CAW, (519) 474-9183; Don Sproule, NRPC, (613) 266-9336, firstname.lastname@example.org; Mike Campbell, NRPC (GTA Region), (416) 948-8281, email@example.com; Darwin Hoskin, NRPC (Belleville Region), (613) 967-0536, firstname.lastname@example.org; Chuck McEwan, NRPC (London Region),(519) 681-2407, email@example.com; Ken Lyons (Montreal Region),(514) 694-6458, firstname.lastname@example.org; Tony Marsh, Media Relations, (613) 832-4817, email@example.com; Shannon Devine, CAW Communications, (416) 302-1699