Bombardier CEO ends his silence on 5,000 layoffs, defends the move

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TORONTO — The head of Bombardier Inc. is defending his move to lay off 5,000 workers — 3,000 of them in Canada — citing efficiency and leaving the door open to more job cuts down the line.

Chief executive Alain Bellemare told an investor conference in Toronto today that the productivity push was “tough” and unpopular, but essential to achieving “world-class” status and an improved revenue-per-employee ratio. He said management will continue “leaning out” or streamlining the Montreal-based company.

Bellemare did not specify where or when the positions would be cut, though Bombardier has said 2,500 workers in Quebec and 500 in Ontario will lose their jobs over the next 18 months as part of his five-year plan to rein in costs, focus on rail and business jets and reduce the net long-term debt of US$9 billion.

Union and opposition leaders decried the layoffs announced last Thursday, with some demanding that executives renounce their salary bonuses.

Quebec Economy and Innovation Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon called a special meeting of industry and union representatives in Montreal Monday to discuss the layoffs and find a path back to employment for affected workers. Bellemare did not attend, dispatching a pair of Bombardier executives in his stead.

Despite agreeing to sell the Q-400 turboprops to Longview Aviation Capital for about US$300 million, Bellemare said he wants to keep making the airline’s CRJ regional jets, but will reassess later on about the possibility of “partnering” with another group.

 

Companies in this story: (TSX:BBD.B)

The Canadian Press