CANADA - Machinists in Canada are calling for a national pension insurance scheme to protect workers from 'corporate pension irresponsibility'.
IAMAW General Vice President Dave Ritchie said: "Canada needs a national pension insurance program to protect workers from the effects of corporate pension irresponsibility."
The submission also requested the federal government to amend pension legislation to render solvent employers in the federal jurisdiction responsible for topping up terminated and under-funded pension plans, which is required in most other Canadian jurisdictions.
A range of other legislative changes, such as an increase in pension security, with restrictions on employers' use of surplus for contribution holidays, have also been requested.
Ritchie said: "In the current environment, many Canadian workers and retirees are concerned that the pension benefits that were negotiated will not be there when they need them, as corporate executives have their own interests before those of pensioners."
The IAMAW cites one example where Air Canada was able to defer its pension contributions under creditor protection in 2004, through special authorization.
But once it left creditor protection, Air Canada management sought to disband and sold off assets, which extricated around $2bn for distribution to investors and management, while continuing to under-fund the pension plan.
Ritchie added: "Now, with the company in a precarious financial condition, and its pension seriously under-funded, Air Canada employees and pensioners face an uncertain future.
The Federal regulator should have acted to the extraction of profits at the expense of pensions. The changes proposed by the IAMAW would help protect the benefits that workers have negotiated and earned."
The IAMAW has 50,000 members in Canada, of which more than 11,000 are workers for Air Canada.
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