Thursday, August 26, 2010

NRPC Newsletter part 3 8-26-10 Political and court action

The following is a summary of elements of the NRPC Newsletter dealing with political action underway and recent court activities as reported in Koskie Minsky's web site.

I will post the last summary information from the Newsletter tomorrow with a list of questions and answers as well as future communications.

Quebec Political Action –
The Quebec committee will be targeting influential Quebec MNAs, and MNAs or MPs who have a large number of Nortel pensioners in their riding. They will be asking Nortel Retirees in Quebec to arrange a meeting with their MP or MNA and bring along one of the Quebec Committee volunteers

Federal Election preparedness –
Federal MPs are seeking donations to fund their political campaigns. If you receive a solicitation from a federal party, take the opportunity to find out if your MP supports the cause of Nortel Pensioners; specifically whether he or she supports Bill C-501.

If your MP cannot commit to support you, let them know that you will urge your friends, neighbours, and family not to send one penny to their campaign unless they change their position vis-à-vis Nortel Pensioners. You can remind Conservative MPs that in the Throne Speech they made a commitment to "protect the pensions of workers whose employer declares bankruptcy".

Political Thrusts - Bill C-501
Further to the "You Can Run but You Can't Hide" ad that was placed in the Ottawa Citizen in June, the NRPC has initiated an extensive media ad campaign across the country targeting vulnerable Conservative MPs who voted against Bill C-501. Several Conservative MPs have already contacted the NRPC to discuss the reasons why they voted against the Bill and others who indicated why they weren't in the House to vote for it. This is being followed-up with letters and calls to the MPs by the Letter Warrior team and other NRPC members. As well, many members are attending local MP constituent meetings and the summer BBQ circuit to discuss the situation first-hand with their MPs.

Although Bill C-501 does not yet include retroactivity and still asks for secured status rather than preferred status, we need to keep up the pressure on all MPs to ensure that they are aware that this bill is our last chance for change. MP John Rafferty has recently extended the offer of consultation to all parties to make the necessary changes to the Bill as it currently stands to ensure passage at third reading.

Keep pressing your MP to do something for former Nortel employees and retirees. Use your voice to let them know that you have a choice with your vote if they do not support us in our time of need.

News from the Courts (from files of Koskie Minsky)

Extension of Stay of Proceedings and Employee Hardship Process
On July 16, 2010, the Court granted an extension of Nortel's stay of proceedings until October 29, 2010. The Court also granted an extension of the Employee Hardship Process until October 29, 2010. Our lawyers have also inquired about the possibility of establishing a hardship fund that would apply to pensioners and their survivors who experience severe financial hardship after benefits are eliminated on December 31, 2010. This request is subject to Court approval. We will notify you of all developments with this matter.

NRPC and KM approaches to the Canada Revenue Agency
Health and Welfare Trust (HWT) and Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Advance Ruling Submissions - Tax counsel for all Nortel employee groups have prepared written submissions to the CRA requesting an advance ruling on the taxability of funds to be distributed from the HWT. The specific possible future lump sum distributions, if court approved, would be for lump sum payments in connection with termination of rights under the long-term disability plan; the pensioner group life insurance plan; and the survivor income benefit plan or survivor transition benefit plan.

Timing of a ruling in uncertain, however, we will advise members as soon as we know. Please note that this ruling is only applicable to the HWT lump sum distributions and not for any future distributions from the Nortel estate. We will pursue a tax ruling on the asset distributions once this one has been obtained for the HWT.

Foreign-Service Earnings -
The CRA recently completed its review of Nortel's practice of including foreign-service earnings for pension purposes and will continue to permit the calculation of pensions in accordance with this practice. For those members who have experienced delays and/or reduced pensions, these issues have now been resolved. It may take up to the end of September for Mercer to complete the recalculations and to implement the appropriate payments.

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