Nortel Pension Takeover in U.S. Hurts Canadian Workers

The day after thousands of Nortel Networks pensioners marched on Canada’s Parliament Hill, word broke that the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has seized control of the Nortel pension plan in the United States.

Now the 23,000 Nortel pensioners in the Great White North are really worried that they’ll never see the benefits they worked all those years to amass. They fear the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. will act to protect U.S. workers’ interests and no one else’s.

For the workers and pensioners in the States, however, the takeover guarantees that as much as $54,000 will be paid from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. every year, per worker. The Canwest News Service said that means Canadian pensioners’ hopes that their plans will survive the Nortel bankruptcy “are effectively dead.” Most of those who worked in Ontario are guaranteed pensions, but only up to $12,000 annually. The remaining 40 percent of Canadian Nortel workers have no guarantees, Canwest reported.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. sits on Nortel’s bankruptcy board and has taken over other pension plans in the airline and steel industries, for example.

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