Nortel Rots My Goat

So we got a bit of not-unexpected but definately unpleasant news this Friday past -- after 12 years, DH has finally been affected by the Nortel cuts and as-of-tomorrow will be unemployed.

We aren't entirely surprised -- though we didn't really expect his eviction from the sinking ship to happen so soon -- and have been preparing for this eventuality by securing our finances and strategizing "gap" plans until he finds a new position. And being the tinhatters that we are, we've been stockpiling dried and canned goods for months now -- we likely have 6mos worth of non-perishables stashed away in our basement and cupboards.

Still, it is a bit of a shock to the system -- particularly for me, as being an "unemployed" at-home parent for the last 7 years doesn't exactly make me marketable and the idea of re-entering the workforce is just shy of terrifying.

All of this pales, though, in the horrible ingratitude of the company he stuck with over the last decade of brutal cuts, shaky leadership, callous dehumanizing business plans, and demoralizing employee relations. Being in bankruptcy protection means no severence package, means our health coverage ends at the end of this month, means DH is being cut free and left to float in the currently-overstocked ocean of other unemployed high tech workers.

I had made peace with it, though, by Friday night and was already starting to make interim plans for the unemployed month(s) we likely face. My tumultuous emotions were focused entirely upon reminding myself of the good things this could mean for our family, for me, and how best to educate the kids on how this will affect them. By Sunday we were even hypothesizing about some small business plans and I was feeling a lot less anxiety about stepping back out into the workforce.

Imagine my pre-coffee bitterness, then, when I read this in my morning news:

Nortel Networks plans to pay almost 1,000 top executives up to US$45-million in cash incentive bonuses to stick with the insolvent company and help get it out of bankruptcy protection.But the balance of the workforce -- about 95% of the North American workforce of 19,400 - will be eligible only for a total of $3-million in retention bonuses, according to documents filed in a U.S. bankruptcy court in Delaware. [...] The new plan will pay 92 senior executives bonuses of 100% to 183% of their salaries and could cost the company $23-million.

Is the leadership of this company now so desperate that they really think that giving $45 million dollars to 5% of the workforce will serve as a motivational aid for the other 95%?

Or are they so dispicable that they see clearly what everyone else sees -- that Nortel will not survive this in any recognizable form -- that they're more concerned about lining the pockets of their overpaid executives with whatever cash is left to get their grimy hands on than ensuring the well-being of their loyal employees?

Here's a shout out to Nortel from me -- the cynical, now embittered, marginally-employable wife of a laid-off employee with no severance package:

You want to motivate the remaining workforce? Put your money where your mouth is and show them that you really care about keeping the company afloat and ensuring they have jobs to go to every day.

  • Take that $45 million and inject it into the company.
  • Guarantee no new layoffs for at least 6 months.
  • Provide small motivational cash bonuses for the remaining employees.
  • Announce that all executives are taking a 5% - 10% pay cut to better reflect the state of the company's finances and as a goodwill gesture to their employees. (Honestly, this would prove more motivational to current workforce than anything else, I'd bet.)

Handing over that $45 million to the company fat cats, already scorned by the employees they are supposedly trying to motivate, is only going to further demoralize the workforce. If Nortel can't see that, its head is so far in the sand it's pushing sandcastles out its arse.

I'm doubly chafed about this because yesterday, while a bit stressed about the personal and familial implications of the job loss, I was resigned to Nortel doing what Nortel had to do -- but after reading my morning news I'm now embittered, have a cold lump of rage in my chest, and am wondering how long before I read a story where a recently-cut employee shows up with a shotgun to make some executive cuts of his or her own.

Comments

Thank You!

Your post is really awesome man. Thanks for sharing it. You really rock.
Regards,
Aden Jeff

Nortel

I deeply regret your anguish over Nortel. Somewhere, somebody wrote "vengence is mine, I will repay". I don't think "might" enters the equation.

One could wait until Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada advances the
loan to the slime who bought the company and then make a statement of claim in the Federal Court of Canada.

The claim would be based on the fact that Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada knew or ought to have known that the officers of the corporation were granted excessive compensation.

The feds and the company should go forth and multiply, to put it in a less sailorly tone.

While one may fantasize about going "postal", it only hurts small people,
on this Hiroshima day it is easy to reflect that human beings have not learned the lesson - "and Cain rose up and slew his brother Abel".

We as a species will probably never learn that lesson so the bottom feeding scum like the Nortel executives and the feds will continue to prosper.

This whole saga is a shame on Canada and is typical of the feds, regardless of party affiliation. They are less than honourable.

The only solution is to enjoy your beer.

Al