October 29, 2018
Members of the United Steelworkers union (USW) are on Parliament Hill today and for the next two weeks to urge MPs from all parties to support legislation to protect workers’ pensions and benefits in cases of corporate bankruptcy and insolvency.
About 30 USW members will be meeting with MPs to support new legislation aimed at reforming the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA).
New Democrat MP Scott Duvall (Hamilton Mountain), a former USW member, and Bloc Québécois MP Marilène Gill (Manicouagan), have each introduced bills that would give priority to claims by workers arising out of underfunded pension plans and elimination of benefits in bankruptcy and insolvency cases.
“Workers and pensioners need to be treated as preferred creditors in bankruptcy cases,” said Nicolas Lapierre, USW co-ordinator in Quebec’s North Shore region. “It doesn’t make sense for banks and other financial institutions to take precedence over men and women who have worked their entire lives to earn their pensions and benefits. Politicians can make a fundamental difference in the lives of people who are being betrayed because our bankruptcy laws do not protect them.”
Currently, workers and retirees are considered unsecured creditors in bankruptcy and insolvency cases and they only receive pennies on the dollar for monies they are owed. Steelworkers are asking MPs to support legislation that will give greater priority to paying back deficits to workers’ pension funds.
“People have worked all their lives and have earned the commitment that they will have a pension when they retire, then they are abandoned when a company enters bankruptcy,” Lapierre said. “We have seen pensioners having to choose between buying groceries or paying for their medications. This is shameful. MPs have an opportunity and a responsibility to change this.”