TRAMTelephone Retirees Association of Manitoba

Harry Restall Report to Retirees 2011

                                                                                                                  September 7, 2011


To:       MTS Retirees and Beneficiaries


From:   Harry Restall - Retiree representative on MTS Defined Benefits Pension Committee


In my letter of January 10, 2010 I stated “data provided to members of the Pension Committee at the regular and two special meetings in 2009 reveals that 73% of all retirees have received a lower pension than what they were entitled to since privatization in 1997.”


Subsequent to my letter the Plan Administrator sent out a pension newsletter stating that my statement was “false”.  My statement was not false.  It is apparent to me that MTS does not understand the position of the employee/pensioners representatives in connection with the pension formula issue.  My comments below are intended to set the record straight.


The issue is not whether the pension formula was changed after MTS was privatized (it wasn’t).  The issue is whether the formula that is used is in compliance with the new plan text and pension law principles in general.  My statement was meant to convey that 73% of retirees would have increased pensions if the formula was changed to strictly comply with the plan text and pension law principles in general.  The 73% figure was derived from data that was provided to the members of the Pension Committee by MTS.  Thus my statement is as accurate as the data provided to the committee members.


This is a serious matter to all existing and future retirees.  We have received a legal opinion that our concerns in this matter are valid.


In the past 2 years MTS was of the view that the Pension Committee was best placed to resolve this issue.  In fact MTS has proposed and advocated a position at the Pension Committee that the formula should be changed to achieve a more equitable and fair result.  Your representatives agreed with MTS that the formula should change and agreed with the new formula proposed by MTS.  However, a dispute arose with respect to whether the change should be made retroactively or just prospectively.


Very recently MTS changed its position.  MTS says it has legal advice that it should not enter into further discussions on changing the formula until the pension lawsuit is over. MTS’s position eliminates any possibility of resolving this issue in the near future.


At the last Pension Committee meeting I told MTS we would be examining all options that are available to move this issue along.   The TRAM executive and I are anxious to have this problem resolved without having to go to litigation, but suffering further delays while the present lawsuit moves slowly towards a conclusion is not acceptable.


A former TEAM member who retired several years ago has decided to take the pension formula matter to court. On May 3rd of this year a Statement of Claim in this regard was filed in the Court of Queens Bench against MTS Allstream Incorporated and The Civil Service Superannuation Board.  As of this date, a Statement of Defence has not been filed.


With regard to the other pension lawsuit, Mr. Justice D. Bryk’s decision requiring MTS to pay $100 Million into the plan for improved benefits was appealed by MTS.  The appeal was heard by the Manitoba Court of Appeal and we are awaiting the decision which we expect to receive any day now.


At the last Pension Committee meeting I asked MTS for the names and addresses of those who signed the waiver form that was distributed to the retiree plan members.  I also asked for funding for copying and mailing my reports to you.  MTS said no; pension plan funds cannot be used for this purpose. 


TRAM has stepped in to do what MTS ought to have done.  It is only through the support of and funding provided by TRAM that I have been able to distribute this report.  I urge you all to continue to support TRAM in its efforts to establish a strong and effective voice for all retirees.


All of the above issues are crucial and all plan member representatives on the Pension Committee are anxious to have them quickly and fairly resolved.   It is becoming extremely frustrating that the only forum where plan member and MTS representatives meet on pension issues is completely ineffective in addressing these problems. 


Harry Restall

Retiree Representative

MTS Defined Benefits Pension Committee