Pension reform safeguards HEU pensions from government raids

Proposed Public Sector Pension Plans Act gives workers access to joint trusteeship over pension plan The NDP government is about to introduce legislation that will give HEU and other public sector pension plan members more control over their pension funds while safeguarding future pension plan surpluses from government raids and employer contribution holidays. The proposed Public Sector Pension Plans Act — expected to be tabled in the B.C. legislature in the next few days — is the result of five years of consultation with public sector unions and employers. The legislation would simplify and modernize the laws governing the four major public sector pension plans under a single statute while leaving the door open to workers and their unions to pursue joint trusteeship of their pension funds if they so choose. The Municipal Superannuation Plan — the pension plan covering most HEU members — has assets of about $12 billion dollars and is expected to be in a surplus position by year-end. Under the existing situation, a future provincial government could raid the surplus in much the manner as the federal Liberals' raid on the federal public servants' plan just a few weeks ago. "Joint trusteeship would protect the pension plan from unilateral actions by government and gives unions a larger role in pension plan management," says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. "This legislation will give us the right to move in the direction of joint trusteeship if that's what our members want." Allnutt says that HEU's Provincial Executive has formed a pension committee to explore the possibility of joint governance but any final decision would be made by HEU members by province-wide ballot. The Public Sector Pension Plans Act is unrelated to the construction and B.C. Hydro pension reforms that have recently drawn fire from opposition benches. "But I expect Gordon Campbell and his party will also oppose moves that would give front-line workers the right to protect their pension surpluses in the future," says Allnutt. "It's critical that HEU activists tell provincial politicians that the time for pension reform is now — not after the next election." The Municipal Pension Board — which includes HEU's Okanagan Director Steve Polak — has issued a booklet explaining pension reform in detail. If youíre a member of the Municipal Pension Plan ask for this publication from your payroll department. If you have access to the internet, you can find more information on pension reform at pensions.gov.bc.ca/penreform/news.htm