Nortel Captured and Killed By Thieves

A former high-flyer at Nortel Networks is sharing her layoff experience, almost two years after the telecom equipment giant declared bankruptcy.

Gwyneth Edwards, writing for the Montreal Gazette, worked for Nortel for 17 years. And she saw her March 20, 2009, firing date coming.

I knew for a month and, during that month, I sent my husband and kids to the dentist, the eye doctor and the chiropractor. I verified that I was eligible for employment insurance and put together a financial plan,” Edwards writes.

When the day came, Edwards was more furious about the outcome of her career and the end of a once-venerated, 115-year-old company than she had expected.

I hung up the phone and sat in silence for a very long time. And then I screamed for a very long time. I wanted my money. After working so hard, for so long, and after laying off so many of the people that I had hired, I was furious. The Nortel I loved no longer existed. It had been captured and killed by thieves who cared nothing about the company, the employees or Canada, for that matter.”

Edwards spent the next year combing through Nortels bankruptcy filings and other court documents, writing letters to the editor on behalf of jilted Nortel pensioners. At last, she finally shook her addiction to the company. She landed a teaching gig at the John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, where she now instructs the core undergraduate strategy course. She talks about Nortels financial ups and downs, and emphasizes that, through all the negatives, most employees remained loyal not because they believed in Nortel executives, but because they believed in the company. Edwards was one of those.

I loved Nortel and still do,” she says.


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