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Nortel employees march on London

Alex Scroxton
Former Nortel employees based at the firm's Harlow offices marched on parliament and the London offices of Ernst & Young today to protest over the way their redundancies were handled.
 
Nortel made over 200 staff redundant in the UK at the end of March, with cuts made in Harlow, at its UK headquarters in Maidenhead, and at its Ulster campus, as reported in MicroScope.
 
Central to their grievance is the allegation that the administrators, Ernst & Young, failed to give them adequate notice or any form of redundancy package.
 
They claim that Ernst & Young gave some staff just minutes to clear their desks without any form of consultation period, flouting the Trade Unions and Labour Relations Act 1992, which stipulates that the administrators must jump through several regulatory hoops when making redundancies above a certain level.
 
In their claim that they received no pay-off the employees are on shakier ground, as Nortel is under no obligation to offer its staff any form of redundancy compensation. Acknowledging this, its former staff have pointed out that the beleaguered vendor recently garnered reams of negative press when it emerged it was forking out multi-million dollar retention bonuses for key executives.
 
The case mirrors similar actions in Nortel's native Canada, where former employees have been vocal in calling for the resignation of CEO Mike Zafirovski.
 
Alasdair McDonnell, SDLP MP for Belfast South, has also raised the case with Gordon Brown on behalf of his affected constituents, according to the Daily Mail.
 
In a statement sent to MicroScope, Nortel said: "Since we filed for administration in January we have inevitably had to make some difficult decisions. We appreciate that some of those decisions have had a very direct and personal impact on employees in the UK. Nortel remains focused on maximizing value for stakeholders, including creditors, customers and employees."
 
Ernst & Young declined to comment, citing confidentiality clauses.
 
Meanwhile, in quarterly results announced yesterday, Nortel posted a net loss of $507m, and Zafirovski confirmed that Nortel is seeking to sell off its remaining business units piece by piece, with several high-profile comms vendors understood to be interested.

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