Bell layoffs: Canadian telecom giant lays off hundreds of employees over 10-minute video call meetings |

telecommunications giant Bell fired more than 400 workers in brief virtual group meetings, according to Unifor, the union representing employees. Unifor, CanadaThe country’s largest private sector union condemned the impersonal manner of the layoffs, calling it “beyond shameful” in a press release.
The laid-off workers, many with years of service at Bell, were told they were being declared “surplus” during 10-minute video calls. Unifor claimed a manager read a layoff notice without allowing employees or union representatives to ask questions. “Our members, who have dedicated years of service to this telecommunications and media giant, are being rewarded with pink slips,” said Daniel Cloutier, Quebec director of Unifor, in a press release.
In a statement to the Toronto Star, Bell communications director Ellen Murphy took issue with some of Unifor’s characterizations. Murphy said the company has been transparent with union leaders for more than five weeks about the layoff process and has met its obligations under collective bargaining agreements. Murphy added that the laid-off employees also had individual HR meetings to discuss severance packages.
THE layoffs came after Bell announced plans to cut 4,800 positions, or about 9% of its workforce, in February. CEO Mirko Bibic, as reported by the Toronto Star, called the cuts necessary to “simplify our organization and accelerate our transformation” during a conference call with analysts. However, the decision attracted widespread criticism, as Bell simultaneously increased its dividend payout to shareholders.
Unifor, which represents more than 19,000 workers at Bell and its subsidiaries, said its members have been dreading meeting invitations since the February announcement. “The truth is that Bell chose to roll a number of heads so it could increase its dividends without a real plan for which jobs and workers would be cut, so the layoffs were cruelly prolonged,” Lana Payne said. National President of Unifor, in the union’s press release.

According to the union’s press release, Unifor members gathered in Ottawa to protest the cuts and criticize Bell for postponing parliamentary hearings in which she was to be questioned about the layoffs. Unifor launched a “Shame on Bell” campaign in response to the layoffs.
The virtual layoffs echo a similar controversy in 2021, when some Bell Media employees were reportedly informed of their layoffs during brief conference calls, as previously reported by the Toronto Star.
Bell maintains that the layoffs are part of a necessary restructuring to simplify the organization and transform the company. However, protesters argue that the cuts prioritize payments to shareholders over employees. Unifor vows to continue its campaign against the company’s handling of the layoffs.
Bell reported a profit of $2.3 billion at the end of 2022, according to Unifor. Len Poirier, Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer, said: “Our dedicated and loyal workers, the majority of whom are women, will have to explain to their families tonight that they are being laid off from Bell for no good reason other than to ensuring that their shareholders and the board of directors come first when it comes to getting paid. It’s absolutely disgusting. »

Matilda Baker

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