Opinion

The inconvenient truth of acquisition

Earlier today we heard the sad news that optical networking specialist Ciena, which now owns a substantial part of Nortel's business, is readying P45s for 17 workers at the vendor's facility in Northern Ireland.

When a company is acquired in our industry one of the things we always try and find out is how it will affect the core of the company's workforce.

A lot of the time it's good news; more often than not IT companies acquire for technological and channel expertise and any roles that are put at risk are generally in areas of duplication, like HR.

But the inconvenient truth is that sometimes, firms just have to let people go, and on this occasion, Ciena has clearly decided that their roles can be better deployed at its headquarters in the US.

We've covered the fortunes of the Nortel workers in Northern Ireland since the venerable Canadian slipped into administration in 2009. In that time the facility - once a jewel in Nortel's EMEA crown and a showcase for the boomtime Northern Irish economy - has seen repeated cuts to its workforce, first by Nortel, and later by Avaya.

In Nortel's case, the redundancies appear to have been very badly handled, drawing the ire of both trade union Unite, which represents a number of those affected, and the local SDLP MP, Alasdair McDonnell. Employees have claimed they were let go without proper consultation or appropriate compensation, and railed against Nortel for forking out hefty bonuses for senior staff.

We can only hope that Ciena treats those affected by the latest cuts as fairly as possible, and extend our sympathy.

This was first published in May 2010

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