January 28, 2009, 8:42 PM — Workers laid off from Nortel are pleading with the company to restore their severance packages.
Nortel froze severance packages for laid-off employees when it filed for bankruptcy protection two weeks ago. According to published reports, those workers are now seeking more sensitivity from the company by requesting resumption of those payouts.
Reuters is reporting that 160 Canadian employees laid off by the company have drafted a memo to Nortel CEO Mike Zafirovski seeking their severance packages be restored.
"For anybody that's let go, it's extremely stressful and it's a really abrupt end to your wages," the Reuters report quoted Paula Klein, a former Nortel R&D employee. "Severances are put in place to help people transition gracefully to new employment."
In Research Triangle Park, N.C., where Nortel has a substantial facility, a former employee is requesting an employment record from Nortel's human resources department as a precaution so that he can prove he worked for the company, according to the Raleigh News Observer . The employee, Bill Vosburg, worked at Nortel for 26 years and is worried that his employment history may be erased after Nortel restructures, is sold, or if it liquidates and ceases to exist, the News Observer reports.
Nortel said freezing severance packages is necessary if the company is to succeed in the long term, Reuters reports.
"This is a business of people-driven innovation and know-how," a Nortel spokesman is quoted as saying in the Reuters report. "But it is also a business that requires significant change to regain its financial footing and emerge as a more competitive player. Tough decisions are being taken -- with the future health of Nortel as the ultimate objective."