This is the one year anniversary of my lay off notice from Nortel. A lot has happened in the past year (unfortunately not a job offer for me, but I am still optimistic), that have me thinking that for something bad, it may end up being a good thing.
The atmosphere at Nortel had been such that since about 2000, there was a constant feeling of the Sword of Damocles hanging over you. I lived through about 16 lay off rounds in the various groups I had worked in, so the actual lay off was almost a relief in a very odd way. My minister made that exact comment that since he had first met me every time he spoke to me I mentioned something about impending lay offs, so my eventual lay off was anti-climatic in a perverse way.
From my calculations I was in the last group (or nearly the last group) that received full severance from Nortel. The people after me are on a long list of creditors who will be paid little or none of what they are owed (or were promised by the company). There are many very sad stories that I have heard from people I used to work with, and I count myself as very fortunate.
The latest stories are sickening to hear that they will be withdrawing payments to people on long term disability, as well as pulling their medical coverage. Hopefully there will be government assistance to these folks, but I am not optimistic.
I suspect that Nortel’s pension debacle may only be the tip of the ice berg in corporate Canada, with Air Canada already having done this (and doing it again). I took my pension money out of Nortel when I could, which in hindsight was a great decision but at the time it was more my lack of trust in the company that made me do it, not any great insight.
All pensions these days seem to be under pressure (even the Public Service pension lost $9Billion dollars this past year), which makes me wonder how the retirement of the Baby Boomers is going to go, and whether all pensions can deal with this huge out flux of cash from their reserves?
Reflections So Far
My real view of my lay off last year is that I have been very lucky, and I was lucky to have worked at Nortel/BNR for the time I did. The experience I picked up continues to get me job interviews, and I worked with many wonderful and amazing people, so even at times when I seem to be a “bitter former employee”, I am not, I am grateful for the experience and hope to soon find a new place to ply my trade.