Bombardier CEO ends silence on layoffs, defends the move

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WATCH: Bombardier cuts 5,000 jobs – Nov 8, 2018

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

READ MORE: New order for Bombardier Alstom Metro cars in Montreal won’t prevent job cuts

“Yes, it is tough. And yes, many people do not like this. But the fact is we want to go and be a world-class organization, and we want to be at benchmark everywhere when it comes to revenue per employees,” chief executive Alain Bellemare told an investor conference in Toronto on Tuesday.

The comments were the first he’s spoken of the layoffs — or potential cuts ahead — since the aerospace and transportation manufacturer announced major restructuring last Thursday.

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WATCH: Opposition criticizes Liberal government over Bombardier job losses

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Opposition criticizes Liberal government over Bombardier job losses – Nov 8, 2018

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 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.

The restructuring, announced alongside Bombardier’s third-quarter earnings, is slated for completion within 18 months and for savings of $250 million annually.

READ MORE: Bombardier cutting about 5,000 jobs as part of restructuring plan

The announcement comes after mass layoffs over the past three years, with about 14,500 positions cut around the world in the aerospace and railway divisions.

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

READ MORE: Bombardier defends CEO’s absence from special meeting following layoffs

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.

WATCH: Bombardier to slash thousands of jobs

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Bombardier to slash thousands of jobs – Nov 8, 2018

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 to build up backlog, but will reassess later on.

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“We might look at partnering, if it makes sense.”

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Bombardier shares fell to a new 52-week low, losing 20 cents or eight per cent at $2.30 in early afternoon trading.

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