Mary Shortall, president of Newfoundland and Labrador's Federation of Labour, does not mince words when she talks about the importance of defined benefit pension plans.

"Retirement security is important for everyone and a good pension is the difference between dignity and despair for a lot of seniors," said Shortall, remarking on why pensions are one of the most important issues for the province's labour movement.

Shortall said defined benefit pension plans are threatened, as employers try to control costs. Such plans typically provide a pre-determined amount of money for the recipient.

"A lot of unionized workers have defined benefit pensions which are under attack in a lot of workplaces now," Shortall said during an interview Monday at a Labour Day family event in St. John's.

"But there's an awful lot of Canadians out there who have no pension whatsoever, and we think that retirement security is important for everybody."

The issue of pensions is currently a top-shelf issue for provincial public servants, with the government reported as being close to striking a new deal with unions on restructuring its pension plans - and dealing with an unfunded liability that adds up to $7.3 billion, including pensions and other post-employment benefits.

With files from Debbie Cooper