·  Media release   ·  

Court Allows Wabush Mines to Cut Pensioners’ Benefits

SEPT-ÎLES – Pensioners will suffer as a result of a Quebec Superior Court judge’s ruling that allows Cliffs Natural Resources to discontinue group insurance benefits and pension fund payments for Wabush Mines’ retirees.

The judge accepted the company’s application and dismissed the union’s arguments in their entirety. As a result, as of June 1, Wabush Mines’ pensioners are no longer covered under the company’s group insurance plan and they will likely see their retirement benefits slashed.

Wabush Mines’ pension fund was running a $23.3-million deficit as of Jan. 1 of this year and the deficit is growing because the employer is no longer contributing to the fund. 

“It is simply shameful that retirees should suffer because laws protect large employers,” said United Steelworkers representative Gilles Ayotte.

“The legislation needs to be changed so that pensioners can benefit from the same preferred creditor status as municipalities. These people gave their working lives to their employer. They worked hard to earn their retirement benefits, only to lose them now. That is completely unfair,” Ayotte said. 

“Since May 20, when Cliffs Natural Resources sought protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, I have received hundreds of calls from pensioners and their spouses,” said Robert Roy, Steelworkers Local 6254 President.

 “These people are seeing the cost of their prescriptions increase dramatically, they’re worried about having their pension benefits slashed. These pensioners are not in a position to re-enter the job market; how in the world can they hope to pay their bills?” Roy asked.

“Given this situation, I can tell you that the respect I used to have for my employer has turned to complete disgust. The laws are there to protect the millionaires, so they can run away with their pockets full. This employer operated for more than 50 years in our region and now it’s making off with the cash and leaving its retired employees, the workers off whose backs it got rich, in a situation of complete vulnerability.” 

The Steelworkers union has scheduled an information meeting for retired members who worked at Wabush Mines and their spouses, at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30, at the Convention Centre on Brochu Street in Sept-Îles.

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For further information: 

Jocelyn Desjardins, 514-604-6273

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