Beer taps to run dry for Molson retirees: report

Tue Jun 9, 2009 7:08pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - The recession has forced some companies to cut pensions and others to curtail retiree benefits, but Molson Canada is turning off the taps in a literal sense.

The brewer will no longer supply its 2,400 retirees with free beer, which currently costs the company about C$1 million ($900,000) a year, the Toronto Star newspaper reported.

Molson, a division of Molson Coors, said it was looking to cut costs and to "standardize" its complimentary beer policy.

The company's retirees in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, for example, will see their monthly allotment fall from six dozen bottles of beer a month to zero over the next five years.

Current Molson workers will still receive complimentary beer, but see their allotment drop from 72 dozen bottles a year to 52 dozen.

"There was no consultation, we just received a letter that this is a done deal, which is totally unfair," Bill Bavis, who retired six years ago after 32 years at Molson's in St. John's, Newfoundland, told the Star. "I think with the economic downturn they're trying to take advantage of us, as a way to cut retirees' benefits and justify it."

Unions have launched grievances in Montreal and Vancouver, where the retirees' allotment is less than in Newfoundland.

A spokesman for Molson said the company feels it still has a very generous benefits package.

($1=$1.10 Canadian)

(Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Rob Wilson)