CSince the Supreme Court will not hear them, the appeals court ruling is upheld. In May 2020, the appeals court rejected the petition of retirees from the White Birch plant in Quebec, as the Supreme Court did before it, in May 2018.
A group of former retired workers sued their union, Unifor, for $ 75 million in damages, accusing the union of not consulting with them and excluding them from negotiations, when the company found itself in a financial struggle.
Distressed pulp and paper mill sold out. The buyer demanded, among other concessions, for an end to previously deficit pension plans.
Protracted negotiations followed with FTQ’s Unifor Consortium, in an effort to save as many jobs as possible, with minimal spillovers.
But despite the informational sessions for the workers, which were attended by a small number of retirees, in addition to the dissemination of information, the retirees criticized the union for not being consulted. They protested in court about the union’s “fiduciary duty” to them.
The Court of Appeal indicated in its ruling that even among the active workers at the Stadacona plant in White Birch, about 300 of them lost their jobs as a result of the settlement. Among the elderly who kept their jobs, some suffered an actuarial loss of about $ 250,000 due to the termination of the pension plan.
The Court of Appeal also concluded that there was no causal relationship between Unifor’s alleged errors, namely lack of consultation, and the damages claimed by the retirees.
Unified soul more …
In response to the Supreme Court ruling on Thursday, Unifor Quebec’s director, Renault Gagnier, said he was “clearly satisfied”.
We don’t think the union is responsible for the company’s financial problems. Nevertheless, the fact remains that we cannot rejoice over this whole issue, because it reminds us of the great losses that active and retired workers have incurred in this restructuring process, ”commented Mr. Gagné.
The Unifor leader in Quebec called on the government to finally settle the issue of the deficit in the pension plan and the fate of retirees, in light of the tragedies that sometimes happen.
Big unions, like Steelworkers and Unifor, and the FTQ central they belong to, have been campaigning about this for years. Mr. Ghani stressed that “governments must act to protect pension plans during insolvency proceedings.”
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