CAW Condemns Corporate Bonuses at Nortel, while Retirees and Former Workers Left for Broke

November 27, 2009, 10:55 AM EST

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CAW President Ken Lewenza is denouncing the news of more corporate bonuses and salary increases at Nortel Networks Corp, while workers are still fighting to get their due severance, termination pay and pensions.

"This is the worst kind of abuse of corporate power - laying off workers and leaving them with nothing while the executives who drove the company into the ground fill their pockets," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "This is deplorable and must be stopped."

Lewenza criticized yesterday's Ontario court ruling that Nortel retirees and former employees will not receive the severance or termination pay as set out in their separation packages.

"This is another example of why we need urgent changes to the bankruptcy laws in this country," said Lewenza. "Companies like Nortel can go into bankruptcy protection and eliminate their financial responsibilities towards former workers. In the case of Nortel, it is even more offensive since they are still paying out huge corporate bonuses, while completely ripping off retired or laid-off workers."

"It is exactly this kind of manipulation of the system that plunged the world economy into crisis last fall - it's truly repugnant that we've learned nothing from this experience."

Lewenza said that the union will continue to fight on behalf of the current and former Nortel workers. The union will be ramping up pressure on government to bring about necessary changes to the bankruptcy legislation, which currently sees workers bumped to the end of the line when companies go into bankruptcy. The union is also pressing for a national guaranteed pension fund which would help cover the pensions of workers whose employers go into bankruptcy protection or bankrupt.

In the company's heyday in the mid 1980s, the CAW represented approximately 5,000 Nortel workers in five locations. 

The story of a new round of corporate bonuses at Nortel surfaced yesterday through a report by the CBC, who obtained the internal corporate document.

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