Skip to main content

The Sears store located at the Erin Mills Town Centre in Mississauga, Ont.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Sears Canada's plan to pay out millions in bonuses to keep execs and key staff on board while not paying severance to laid-off workers is being met with shock and disbelief.

"It definitely should not go to them," said Marinella Gonzalez, who worked as a planner at the retailer's head office for 18 years before getting laid off in June with no severance.

"This situation happened because of mismanagement, and it should not be the workers that have to pay for that."

Story continues below advertisement

Gonzalez said more needs to be done to protect and prioritize worker rights when companies get into trouble.

"This is not the Canadian way.... To be treated in this way is absolutely unacceptable. I think our government needs to step in and these corporations need to smarten up."

Ken Eady, who spent 30 years at Sears before retiring, said news of the bonuses while not paying severances was just the latest development in a terrible situation.

"To see people being paid what might be millions of dollars in bonuses for staying seems so out of balance and so unreasonable that it's beyond the pale," said Eady, who now works to protect the pensions of retired Sears employees at the independent SCRG retiree association.

Sears Canada got court permission on Thursday to pay $9.2-million in retention bonuses as part of a compromise with retired employees that will see the company continue making some benefit and pension payments until Sept. 30.

The retailer had initially asked the court for permission to immediately halt payments for pension, health and dental benefits for laid off employees, retirees and surviving spouses due to a severe cash crunch.

Justice Glenn Hainey wrote in his approval of the $9.2-million in payments that the details should remain confidential. But the company estimated when it sought court protection in June that it would need to pay $7.6-million for key employees at head office and $1.6-million for managers of stores that are scheduled to be closed under the restructuring.

Story continues below advertisement

Sears Canada spokesman Joel Shaffer said the payments are common during the creditor protection process, and are designed to keep key employees motivated with performance indicators and incentives to successfully close stores.

He said the payments are designed to support the best possible outcome for the business and stakeholders, and that the situation could worsen without them.

Along with approving the deal between the company and former employees, Hainey also gave Sears Canada the green light to immediately proceed with reaching out to potential buyers while it's under court protection from its creditors.

Sears Canada shocked many employees when it announced in June that it planned to close 59 locations across the country and cut approximately 2,900 jobs, without severance, while under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

Employment lawyer Susan Ursel, whose firm represents more than 17,000 non-unionized former and current employees, said Thursday they continue to push for temporary hardship fund for those who are in dire need of cash and health benefits.

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter