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Canadian company fired more than 400 employees over video call, decision given in 10 minutes

Layoffs at Bell: The union representing Bell employees has asserted that the telecommunications giant has laid off hundreds of its employees in a virtual meeting held on Wednesday. In a press release, Unifor stated that over 400 workers were notified on Wednesday that they were being declared “surplus” by the company. The union alleged that its members were informed about their termination in a brief 10-minute virtual meeting.

Employees and union members were not given permission to speak during this meeting. It is reported that during the 10-minute video call, neither the employees nor the union representatives were unmuted, preventing them from asking any questions to the company. Managers delivered the news of termination, and employees were not afforded any opportunity to express themselves.

“Our members, who have served this telecom and media giant for years, are being rewarded with pink slips,” stated Daniel Cloutier, Quebec director of Unifor. “If that’s not beyond embarrassing, I don’t know what is.”

In a statement to the Star on Thursday, Ellen Murphy, Bell’s director of communications, stated that the company is “working with Unifor and other unions on the impacts to our unionized workforce. Bell has been working with Unifor leadership on that process.” Murphy added, “We have been very transparent in the manner in which these discussions take place since discussions began five weeks ago, and we have met all of our obligations under the relevant collective bargaining agreements.”

Murphy noted that the employees who were laid off “had individual meetings with HR representatives to discuss their individual packages and ask questions.”

Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union with approximately 315,000 members nationwide, including Toronto Star employees, represents over 19,000 employees at Bell and its subsidiaries.

The union expressed its dissatisfaction with how the dismissals were handled, prompting the company to alter its approach for future meetings. Unifor representatives will be present in future meetings, and employees on the group call will be permitted to unmute themselves and ask questions. This latest round of layoffs follows Bell’s announcement in February that it would be reducing its workforce by about nine percent, affecting approximately 4,800 jobs.


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