Employees at the Canadian Electrolytic Zinc Ltd. refinery outside of Montreal have voted to reject the final contract offer from the their parent company after nearly eight months on strike.

Among the issues at stake for the 371 workers, who are members of the United Steelworkers union, is their defined benefit pension plan. The union suggested in a news release that the company, which is operated by Noranda Income Fund, had asked for pension concessions even though the plan is in a surplus position. The union, however, won’t comment on the details of the concessions while negotiations are underway.

Read: Rio Tinto, B.C. workers avert strike with tentative agreement

The fund’s pension plan for unionized employees is operated by its majority shareholder, Glencore Canada, according to its 2017 annual report. At Dec. 31, 2016, according to the annual report, the estimated liabilities and assets of Canadian Electrolytic Zinc’s share of the plan were $92 million and $96.7 million, respectively.

“Eight months into the strike, Noranda Income Fund offered its employees more or less the same contract that provoked the strike in the first place,” said Luc Julien, a staff representative with the union, in a release, which noted members voted by a 97 per cent majority to reject the contract offer.

“We are disappointed that our employee bargaining unit rejected what we believe to be a fair offer,” said Eva Carissimi, president and chief executive officer of Canadian Electrolytic Zinc, in a news release. “Our offer included improvements in pension rate, early retirement for close to 100 employees over the next five years, as well as wage increases.”

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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