October 21, 2009
Nortel pensioners protest bankruptcy laws in Ottawa
 
Former Nortel employees gathered on Parliament Hill on
Wednesday, October 21, 2009 along with several hundred union
protesting for the Federal Government to give pensioners and
people affected by the Nortel insolvency a higher priority ranking in
the bankruptcy courts.

The CAW joined in the demonstration, including the CAW VIA Rail
Bargaining Committees, who took time out of their negotiations
with VIA Rail, which is taking place all this week in Ottawa.

Nortel is one of many companies that have used the Companies'
Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) in an attempt to offload its
pension obligations onto their workers.  

Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009 and since
then they have been selling off assets.  In June, the company's
shares were delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Former Nortel employees say their pensions are less than 70%
covered because the company is in bankruptcy proceedings.

Pensions are a provincial responsibility in Canada, but bankruptcy
laws are federal.  The protesters are concerned that their pension
and disability payments are not protected under the current
legislation.
From left to right: CAW Council 4000 Regional Reps Lou Walsh and
Danny Andru, Council 4000 Sec. Treasurer Heather Grant and
Council 4000 Regional Rep Dave Kissack joined in the Nortel protest
in Ottawa along with CAW Council 4000 President Barry Kennedy
Photo: B.Kennedy
NDP leader Jack Layton, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe were joined along with Canadian
Labour Congress (CLC) President Ken Georgetti to talk and participate in the protest.


Don Sproule, Chairman of the national committee for Nortel Pension Plan members, who was also a speaker at the protest, said
that nearly 20,000 workers have been affected by Nortel's financial troubles.  About 17,500 are pensioners and another 2,000 were
let go without severance, and 450 remain on long-term disability from the company.

"The feds like to talk about how sound our financial system is and how we weathered the financial crisis today because of sound
legislation," Sproule said.  "I don't think anyone was watching the store in terms of what was happening to pension plans. This dirty
little secret's been going on for a long time. It's only the high-profile cases like Nortel that are causing the issue to percolate to the
top again."