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Nortel Retirees Beg Canadian Lawmakers to Rethink Pension Plans Fate

Nortel Networks pensioners, whose underfunded benefits will fall under government supervision at the end of this month, rallied this week in Canada to beg lawmakers to rethink the fate of their pension plan.

The fund soon will be converted into individual annuities serviced through different financial institutions. But retirees want federal authorities to consider another idea: forcing those institutions to compete to offer something akin to a pension plan, The Canadian Press reported.

“We are not asking something that is unreasonable,” Peter Kennedy, secretary-treasurer of Canadian Auto Workers, told a crowd gathered in Ontario on Wednesday, according to The Canadian Press. “The government does not have to act in haste, there is time here and there are options.”

But Ontarios finance minister already has called the sponsorship model a riskier road” for a $2.5 billion fund that has been horribly mismanaged,” The Canadian Press said.

One woman, 70-year-old Eleanor Wilson, said her monthly benefits will fall from about $1,200 to about $600 under the current plan. And organizers of Wednesdays rally say Nortel pensioners could lose at least 35 percent of their company-funded income each month, an amount that stands to drop if the government winds up the plan, according to The Canadian Press.

Pensioners got shafted after Nortel filed for bankruptcy in January 2009. Telecom equipment maker Nortel once was Canadas most valuable company; it since has become a shell of its former self, auctioning off almost all of its assets.


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