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Local Tech Wire

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Creditors and laid-off employees are not the only ones who stand to lose money as the bankrupt telecommunications gear maker continues toward breakup, selling off business pieces to the highest bidders.

Perhaps the worst hit will be the more than 400 Canadians receiving long-term disability through Nortel.

Robert Meynell, government relations associate for March of Dimes Canada, wrote in The Toronto Star on Sunday: “Disabled Nortel employees lose out” because their benefits are linked to Nortel operating income, not insurance.

“As Nortel divvies up its assets and former CEO Mike Zafirovski paws for $12.3 million (U.S.), employees on long-term disability are forgotten and abandoned, providing yet another example of how more than 40 per cent of Canadians with disabilities find themselves earning less than $10,000 per year,” Meynell wrote.

“One day Fortune knocks, recruiting you into the world of the disabled. Though you’ve lost much, you are thankful that you’re not also left penniless,” he added. “Then you receive a letter from your employer informing you that, regrettably, your LTD plan was not really covered by an insurance company and when the business evaporates so will your paycheque.

“This financial spiral is the reality faced today by the 409 people on LTD at Nortel, except that they have yet to receive the letter. Indeed, Nortel’s lawyers are not disclosing much.”

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Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail in Toronto reported Monday that the to protect Nortel retirement pensions.

"Under the deal Quebec’s pension plan, Regie des rentes du Quebec, would take charge of the pension assets and try to grow the retirement savings on behalf of the Quebec beneficiaries," the newspaper said.