Nfld. & Labrador

Molson free beer allocation goes flat for N.L. retirees

A group of retirees protested outside of the Molson Brewery facility in St. John's after the company said it was cutting the amount of free beer they get as part of their pension plan.

A group of retirees protested outside of the Molson Brewery facility in St. John's after the company said it was cutting the amount of free beer they get as part of their pension plan.

Molson pensioners in St. John's used to receive six dozen beers per month as part of their benefits package. That has now been cut to one dozen per month according to a letter sent to employees across the country. The allocation will be dropped altogether in five years.

The letter says the changes have been made on account of competitive pressure and the current economy, which have forced the company to "monitor costs and look for innovative ways to control and reduce them."

The changes weren't going over well with pensioners in St. John's who accused the company of arbitrarily removing benefits they were promised when they retired.

"'There's been no consultation with the members, and they've taken beer from them, which is a taxable benefit" said Greg Pretty of the FFAW/CAW, which represents approximately 45 Molson retirees in St. John's.

"The people who brought this company to where it is today, with ... sales close to 70 per cent, [which is] Molson's market share, are now being discriminated against based on their age," he said.

Pretty said the pensioners wanted a meeting with the CEO of Molson Canada to ensure that not only the beer allocations would be preserved but the rest of the negotiated benefits as well.

"We deserve better. They're nickel and diming the retirees over, you know, they're using the economic downturn to take advantage of us, said retiree Bill Bavis.

Retiree Kevin Walsh, who worked for Molson for 41 years, said the beer wasn't a hand-out to employees; it was something they earned — and are still earning.

"Like, I'm in Butterpot [provincial park], and I take my rations with me and people come along and … [I say] 'How are you today? … have a beer, have a beer.' I'm still a salesman. I'm still promoting the Molson product," he said.

A Molson representative told CBC that Molson has 2,400 retirees across the country and supplying them all with free beer was costing the company over $1 million a year.

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