Canadian Manufacturing

Wow, people are really angry with Bombardier’s executive pay hike

Protesters spent the weekend throwing paper airplanes and waving signs at Quebec's legislature and Bombardier's headquarters; Quebec's Liberal party used its majority to block several motions calling on the government to take action


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MONTREAL—Bombardier is expected to formally inform shareholders today about changes to the compensation for several of its top executives when it files a new proxy circular with the securities regulator.

Chief executive Alain Bellemare has asked the board to delay payment of more than half of last year’s total planned compensation for six executive officers, including himself, by one year to 2020, provided the company meets certain objectives.

Executive chairman Pierre Beaudoin also asked the board to cut his 2016 compensation by US$1.4 million to bring it in line with what he received the previous year.

That hasn’t satisfied opposition politicians and protesters who say the company’s reversal doesn’t go far enough.

On April 9, protesters threw paper airplanes in front of Premier Philippe Couillard’s Montreal office as they called on the company to reverse the raises altogether.

They also criticized the Quebec government for not having insisted Bombardier protect jobs and limit raises when it gave the company $1 billion in taxpayer dollars.

Earlier, many of them waved signs and shouted slogans such as “too much is too much!” during a march that began in front of the company’s headquarters.

Many of the protesters said they wanted the Quebec government to impose conditions on companies that receive public money so jobs are protected and executive bonuses are limited.

“It’s our money, and the government is laughing at us,” said one protester, Pierre Brazeau. “If we don’t come out in the streets, they’ll continue to exploit us like they’re doing now.”

Bombardier has faced a storm of public criticism ever since it circulated documents showing six executives were in line for a roughly 50 per cent increase in compensation last year.

The increases came despite the fact the company recently received a $372.5 million loan from the federal government, and US$1 billion from the Quebec government.

Parti Quebecois legislature member Alain Therrien pointed out it was the second straight weekend of protests outside Bombardier’s headquarters.

“We can see this isn’t solved, even if Mr. Couillard would like it to be,” he said at the protest.

Quebec’s governing Liberal party used its majority to block several opposition motions calling on the government to take action last week, with Couillard arguing that government interference would send a bad signal to businesses.

The 2016 compensation figure was roughly 50 per cent more than the amount paid to the same executives in 2015, but Bombardier argued it was not appropriate to compare the two years because some of the executives started their jobs at various times in 2015 and didn’t work the whole year.


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