Former mill workers suing over pensions

Nearly 50 retired employees of the former Pope & Talbot Harmac pulp mill are part of a registered class action lawsuit.

Nearly 50 retired workers of the former Pope & Talbot Harmac pulp mill are part of a registered class-action lawsuit challenging reductions to their pension plan.

The suit – against Alan Clark, retired superintendent of pensions for B.C.; the Financial Institutions Commission for B.C.; the Province of B.C.; and Morneau Sheppell Inc. – involves 88 retired Pope & Talbot salaried employees who worked at the company’s B.C. operations in Nanaimo, Grand Forks, Castlegar, Fort St. James and Midway before it went bankrupt in 2008.

The employees, and widows of those employees, are suing because steep reductions to their pensions were ordered, resulting in losses of approximately $3 million and ongoing losses estimated to be more than $15 million.

William Faminoff, lawyer for the retired employees, said in a press release that at the time of Pope & Talbot’s bankruptcy, the pension was underfunded and had a 30 per cent deficiency, but pensioners thought they were safeguarded by a provision in the plan that gave them priority as retired members.

The suit alleges the superintendent of pensions contacted Pope & Talbot’s management in the company’s final months, demanding it get rid of the priority provisions, and when it refused to do so, he took matters into his own hands and ordered that the provisions be disregarded.

The pensioners claim the superintendent had no authority to overrule the terms of a registered pension plan.

Donald Stewart, a member of the suit’s steering committee, worked at Harmac as a maintenance supervisor from 1968 to 2004 and had no idea there was trouble with the plan until a 2010 letter from Morneau Sheppell, the company hired by the superintendent of pensions to  administer the pension plan,  indicated the pensions would be reduced by 30 per cent retroactive  to 2008.

“There was a contract in place that we would receive the pension for the rest of our lives and all of a sudden it’s reduced 30 per cent by no fault of our own,” he said. “It’s less retirement income and now we have to rework our priorities.”

Stewart wants to see the pension plan reinstated but has no idea on a timeline for the suit.

“It’s been registered in the courts and right now lawyers are talking to lawyers,” he said. “There’s no real timeline but we’re hoping it’s sooner than later.”

The Harmac mill was bought out of bankruptcy by a group of employees and private investors in 2008 and is running profitably.

 

 

Just Posted

Japanese student visit program looking for host families

Families in Nanaimo-Ladysmith being asked to help out with Dec. 6-9 home stay

Eden Gardens’ calendar sure to be a chart-topper

Dementia care facility working on fundraiser project

City of Nanaimo asking for opinions about planned downtown mobility hub

Short-term improvements include Front Street bikeway, intersection upgrades and more

Woman airlifted with serious injuries after being struck by car in Nanaimo

Woman, hit in crosswalk, suffers life-threatening injuries; driver co-operating with police

‘We love you, Alex!’: Trebek gets choked up by ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s answer

The emotional moment came in Monday’s episode when Trebek read Dhruv Gaur’s final answer

Birthday boy: Pettersson nets 2 as Canucks beat Predators

Vancouver ends four-game winless skid with 5-3 victory over Nashville

Judge rejects Terrace man’s claim that someone else downloaded child porn on his phone

Marcus John Paquette argued that other people had used his phone, including his ex-wife

On Remembrance Day, community pledges never to forget

Images from Remembrance Day ceremonies in Lantzville on Monday, Nov. 11

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

B.C.’s high gasoline prices still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

One dead after fiery crash in Duncan

A man has died after a fiery motor vehicle collision Monday night,… Continue reading

Vancouver Island substitute teacher said he wanted a student to ‘whack’ two others on Grade 8 field trip

Campbell River teacher-on-call suspended three weeks after November 2018 incident

Nanaimo’s Sikh community celebrates 550th birthday of religion’s first Guru

Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurpurab among the most sacred of Sikh religious festivals

Most Read