Home Workplace News Unifor criticizes Bell’s job cuts amid record dividends and executive pay hikes

Unifor criticizes Bell’s job cuts amid record dividends and executive pay hikes

by HR Law Canada

During a tense session with the House of Commons Heritage Committee, Bell Canada Enterprises Inc. (BCE) CEO Mirko Bibic faced scrutiny over the company’s decision to lay off thousands of workers despite a significant increase in dividends to shareholders.

BCE, which announced dividends totalling $3.7 billion in 2023, was questioned for both its financial priorities and its compliance with federal labour regulations. The telecom giant is under fire for terminating 4,800 employees in February 2024, a move Unifor claims did not include the legally required 16 weeks’ notice to the government.

Unifor National President Lana Payne sharply criticized the company’s actions. “We heard nothing today that could justify BCE’s decision to fire more than 6,000 people while simultaneously increasing executive compensation and shareholder payouts,” Payne said. She described the company’s rationale as “out of touch” with the expectations of Canadians and dismissed it as mere “corporate spin.”

The Bell CEO was also accused of misleading the public regarding the union’s stance on the job cuts. “It is blatantly false that Unifor was in any way in agreement with Bell’s decision to fire thousands of workers,” Payne stated, countering Bibic’s implications during the committee meeting.

Daniel Cloutier, Unifor Quebec Director, echoed Payne’s sentiments, criticizing Bibic for repetitive and evasive responses when pressed by MPs. “The CEO has clearly failed to justify the major job cuts, and greed seems to be the only obvious explanation behind these actions,” Cloutier remarked.

In response to these layoffs, which include 800 of its members, Unifor has initiated the “Shame on Bell” campaign. The union, which represents over 19,000 telecommunications workers at BCE and its subsidiaries, including more than 2,100 Bell Media members, is also taking a proactive stance with its new “Meet the Board” initiative. This campaign aims to expose the decision-makers at BCE, highlighting the disparity between the executive actions and the broader corporate accountability.

As BCE prepares for its upcoming shareholders meeting on May 2, Unifor’s leadership is urging shareholders to demand answers and hold executives accountable for their decision-making processes. Len Poirier, Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer, called on shareholders to “ask tough questions about these callous decisions.”

Unifor stands as Canada’s largest union in the private sector, advocating for workers’ rights across the economy. The union’s leadership continues to fight for transparency and accountability from one of the country’s largest telecommunications providers.

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