By Sue Bailey
Jim Skinner thought after a 35-year career at the Wabush iron ore mine in Labrador he’d be set for the golden retirement he had earned.
He was wrong.
U.S.-based Cliffs Natural Resources shut the mine down in 2014, blaming high costs, falling prices and waning global demand. Its operations in Labrador and at Bloom Lake in Quebec were placed under creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act as part of debt restructuring.
Health benefits for more than 2,400 retirees have since been cut and pensions slashed by 21 to 25 per cent because the plan was not fully funded, Skinner said in an interview.
“I lost over $1,000 a month on my pension,” he said. “I’ve lost all of my medical insurance, all of my life insurance.
“We have people that are in worse shape than I am. It’s really life changing,” added Skinner, 66.
“We have a terminally ill pensioner now who has been forced to choose between buying food and life-saving medication.”
Union leaders say it’s just the latest example of how retirees get left behind when multinational companies leave the country.
Skinner, who negotiated contracts at the mine as the former United Steelworkers local president, said it’s time for Ottawa to stop allowing corporations to walk out on pensioners.