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ST. JOHNS Overhauling the public service pension plan is one of the major goals of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) as it heads into conciliation talks with the provincial government this weekend.

Its time for government to take action on the plans unfunded liability, and to halt the erosion of retirees incomes, says CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador president Wayne Lucas. We are also asking for joint trusteeship so the plan can be properly managed in the future.

Joint trusteeship is an idea that is taking off in other parts of the country, says Lucas. In Manitoba all major public pension plans are under joint trusteeship. Its the workers wages that are being deferred, and they ought to have an equal say in how the plan is managed.

Right now the government is forcing our members to pay off a liability that isnt theirs, he adds. And whats worse, the government can continue to force the burden of this liability onto the shoulders of the plan members. Under joint trusteeship members would have an equal say in how the plan is funded and administered.

An even greater crime, says Lucas, is the number of public sector retirees now living below the poverty line because the pension plan is not indexed to the cost of living.

It is critical that the plan is protected from inflation, he says, Otherwise retirees can only look forward to a continuously sinking standard of living.

CUPE is also asking the government to take care of current retirees who have seen their incomes eroded by inflation. One of CUPEs proposals asks for a retroactive improvement that would reflect the impact of inflation since 1990.

Public sector workers should not be sentenced to a life of poverty after retirement, Lucas concludes.

CUPE will be joined at the pensions table by the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE).

For more information contact Wayne Lucas at (709) 753-0732, 726-8208 (home) or 727-2509 (cell).