Pension lawsuit against Grupo Bimbo-owned Canada Bread to be resolved in Q2

FC-CSN union workers held a protest at Canada Bread's office in Ontario. Pic: FC-CSN

Union members at Multi-Marques, the Québec-based arm of Canada Bread, have demanded $6m in pension repayments for the 15 years the company is accused of cutting employee benefits. 

Canada Bread, which manufactures bagels, English muffins and other baked goods, was acquired by Grupo Bimbo for $1.83bn in May 2014.

The company has purportedly blocked pension payments since 2002, according to the Fédération du commerce (FC–CSN), the union representing the affected workers.

Switching union organizations

FC-CSN said in a release the employees decided to leave the Bakery, Confectionery and Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) to join the FC-CSN in accordance with the Québec Labour Code in 2002.

“[Canada Bread] then started a legal process related to the retirement plan in place at the time. Today, 15 years later, the issue is still not resolved,” the release said.

Vice president of FC-CSN, David Bergeron-Cyr, noted the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favor of the union workers in 2013 under the obligations related to the Régie des rentes du Québec, now called Retraite Québec, but Canada Bread ignored the court decision.

Retraite Québec is responsible for “administering the Québec Pension Plan, child assistance, public-sector pension plans as well as supplemental pension plans,” according to its website.

Bergeron-Cyr emphasized the dispute is between the union workers and Canada Bread, and does not involve the BCTGM.

Not Canada Bread’s pension plan

Canada Bread later released a statement, in which it said the pension plan in question is a BCTGM-sponsored multi-employer pension plan registered in Québec, managed by a board of Canada Bread and BCTGM-appointed trustees.

“It is not a Canada Bread pension plan. As one of several participating employers in the BCTGM pension plan, Canada Bread makes contributions on behalf of its [Multi-Marques] associates.

“Canada Bread does not make decisions about payments to plan members,” the company added.

A Grupo Bimbo’s spokesperson said the litigation file still remains active.

“We may owe money to [union workers], but ... the court hasn’t come back to clarify what we owe,” she explained.

“We anticipate the court to issue a final ruling at some point in Q2 this year. That’s why we’ve been complying with the court, and we intend to continue to be complying with it.”

FC-CSN said it it would not comment further until it has discussed matter with its legal team, however, it did say it would keep BakeryandSnacks updated.

In 2016, Grupo Bimbo’s North American business reported a 43% increase in sales from the year prior, of $7bn.

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