Nova Scotia

NSGEU disputes school board pension plan

The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union is taking on two of the province's smallest school boards in an effort to restore the solvency of two pension plans.

The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union is taking on two of the province's smallest school boards in an effort to restore the solvency of two pension plans.

"It's a violation of our collective agreement and we believe it's a violation of the pension act," said Joan Jessome, the NSGEU's president.

The union said it would fight the Tri-County Regional School Board over the way it intends to fix the pension plan it administers for support staff in southwest Nova Scotia.

In 2012, contributions will increase from five per cent to 7.65 per cent of pay.

"They just said point blank they are going to pay another 2.65 per cent out of their pay bi-weekly to the equation of $60,000 for 49 people in a matter of each year," Jessome said Thursday. "It's a $1.7-million plan — $60,000 isn't going to make a difference."

The financially strapped school board didn't see it that way.

The board said in a statement to CBC News Thursday that it's seeking to bring contribution rates more in line with other public sector pension plans.

"This is not a dollar raising issue. It is the need to have the contribution rates reflect today's costs to support the ongoing viability of the plan," said Lisa Doucet, the board's superintendent.

Last year, the Tri-County Regional School Board and the South Shore Regional School Board were given more time to bring their pension plans into solvency.

The South Shore board also intends to increase contributions in 2012 for NSGEU and members of other unions, although the increases are smaller than those next door.

"If they get away with it, it's a domino effect. South Shore tried it, we will be filing a policy grievance with them, Tri-County has done it, effective they don't have the authority to do it."

The union urges its members to attend next Tuesday meeting of the Tri-County Regional School Board in Yarmouth to show their opposition.

The Nova Scotia School Boards Association said it doesn't intend to change contribution rates for the plans that it administers.

The Department of Labour, which oversees pensions, told CBC News it is not reviewing what is being done by the South Shore and Tri-Country boards.

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