Nortel Insider – by Desk Jockey

The view from one Desk Jockey

Loyalty to Nortel

with 26 comments

In recent days, there have been accusations leveled at me for being hateful, disloyal and unfaithful towards Nortel. Others have even gone as far as to as blame me for the downfall of the company. I would like to take some time to refute these claims.

Firstly, let me say that I am a loyal employee of Nortel.  Of course, those could just be words, so what exactly does that mean? It means that I have enjoyed working here from day one.  It means that I enjoy the company of my coworkers and enjoy the environment provided by work.  It means that I have been happy to work hard, overtime into evenings and weekends on many occasions, to help the company achieve its goals.

It means that I am proud of the Nortel name and what it represents.  When people ask me, “Where do you work at?”, I can proudly reply that “I work for Nortel!”  Their response, however, is invariably the same: I see it in their faces.  A slight wince, and slight aura of unease as they try to find the right words to say in reply, as if they were talking to someone who had just disclosed to them that they had contracted an incurable disease. 

None of this bothers me, though, since I am proud of the company I work for.  So I happily dispel their awkwardness by explaining to them that although Nortel’s reputation and position has suffered because of the actions of a criminal few, the vast majority of employees are smart, hard working and loyal.  These are the people who have built Nortel through their years of tireless service.

It is true that I have been critical of management.  In particular, I have spent much time pointing out the flaws of the current management, since under their tenure Nortel has seen its decline turn into a near-complete destruction.  But to accuse me of hating this company would be akin to accusing someone of being unpatriotic because they disagreed with the policies of the Bush Administration during its period in office.

Just as it is completely illogical to accuse someone of “aiding the terrorists” because they do not agree with specific government policies, it does not make any sense to accuse me of “aiding competitors” because my opinions do not align directly with those of upper management.

On the contrary, it is because I am so faithful to Nortel that I am most upset at how upper management has mistreated, and continues to mistreat, its most loyal employees and has driven the company into bankruptcy.  Furthermore, their continued abdication of any level of responsibility is an outrage to many.  Just today, this comment was posted in response to my Open Letter to Mike Z:

The National Post said today that Nortel had moved in bankruptcy court to permit Nortel employees to continue to cash in their Nortel loyalty points – Nortel argues that it keeps up morale if workers can cash in points for trips and sports tickets.

My father worked for Northern for 37 years. He has been on a pension of $1600 a month for 20 years or so.
It is thought that his pension (which by the way was non-negotiable AND he couldn’t add more into it either) will be considered an unsecured debt and he’ll be lucky to get cents on the dollar.


My dad worked at Nortel BEFORE THE UNIONS. He was sent home twice a year (10 days at Christmas and 2 weeks int he summer) from all the remote Canadian locations they sent him to. I was in my late teens before he got a fair promotion – then they sent him home every 3 or 4 months and after another two promotions, every two weeks.

So the guys making the least had to subsidize Nortel when it needed them far away.

AND THESE ARE THE GUYS who are losing their pensions.

But Nortel is arguing that sales guys should get commissions and workers get their points.

What a generation!!! No knowledge of the history of their own company!!! No conscience….No sense of respect for the elderly —- just tickets to a sports game

I am beyond horrified.

To my detractors, I put this question: Would you dare accuse this person or their father of disloyalty to Nortel? Would you consider them to be unfaithful or hateful of Nortel? 

What this commenter has said is 100% true.  The acts of management are not only destroying the lives of many employees, but they are destroying the whatever remains of Nortel’s reputation.  What positive things can be said of a management that disregards the very people who worked so hard to build the company that they inherited!

Written by Desk Jockey

February 3, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

26 Responses

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  1. DJ,

    Yet another great letter; you certainly know how to articulate…—bb


    February 3, 2009 at 8:29 pm

  2. DJ, keep ’em coming..I’m sure many people are glad to see someone putting their feelings into words…yet, some folks are just not very good at calling them and you’ve taken some low shots lately so let it just bounce off.

    gosh, I just realized you have the same initials as that former president of North America that is now working at a funeral home…oohhh, good, that chuckle was intentional..

    Nortel watcher

    February 3, 2009 at 8:53 pm

  3. DJ,
    The Nortel employees I know are professional and caring. As with you, we all have a story and we all have our own ideas as to what is happening, has happened, why, etc… The difference is that you have chosen to express your story in a public forum. With that comes responsiblity. Your blog is being read by employees and non-employees alike. Maybe it’s time for you to step up into a leadership role yourself and encourage professional and positive debate, instead of using criticism and questionable props (i.e. the video). If not for you, then maybe for your father?


    February 3, 2009 at 10:01 pm

  4. Ignore my last line. I thought the story was about your own father. I just noticed that it was someone else’s post.


    February 3, 2009 at 11:16 pm

  5. Dear DJ,

    No worries! You are sharp, bright and sincere. You simply said the truth and very few people will acknowledge it. What had brought Nortel down is exactly this culture of ‘Never question upper Management’. Sadly, the results are there to prove it. Managers and Execs should open their Dictionary and look up the word ‘humble’ if they really want to to save this company. Thanks.


    February 3, 2009 at 11:22 pm

  6. DJ,

    Another great post. I appreciate reading about your views and the commenter’s as well. And I could probably say with confidence that most of your readers agree with some of these views and disagree with some of them. I guess it depends on how you interpret the messages you read.

    As for me, I’m in a general agreement with you but I wouldn’t go as far as to call the management liars because they haven’t really made any clear statements. It’s all been really vague and pretty much just plain crap. Or that I would not call them criminals because they haven’t been convicted of any crimes (one came close though).

    Anyway what I’m trying to say here is that people think and feel differently and may have different opinions and views and a blog like this is a great way of sharing them. But it’s a bit hard on your blog because if one makes a criticism, you rubbish them off, calling their comments a “personal attack” or “false accusation” but when I read some of your responses to your criticisms, your responses seem to carry more personal attacks and false accusations. And you don’t seem to show much respect for these folks either, because they “lack critical thinking”.

    I guess this post is more less a general response to some of the comments you’ve been receiving, but it would be nice to have a bit more freedom of speech. Afterall, they’re criticising you just as you are criticising the management. And the way I see it, you, the “big brother” of this blog, are trying to make people think all the same and won’t have it with thoughts that don’t align with yours. Seemed a bit ironic with your references to your favourite novel to share your thoughts on the management. A bit funny in a way too. You allowed people to comment on your posts in the first place, but yet you make it publicly known that you’re disturbed by some of these comments. But I think Concerned was spot on. Perhaps it’s time to step it up a bit for the good of this blog.


    February 4, 2009 at 12:40 am

  7. Just a comment here…

    I realize that the pensioners have earned their entitlement and need a steady source of income to sustain. However, the people that were recently laid-off without any severance and the ones will be lay off soon are also in a dire straight situation…

    Ok, some of them are young enough to find another job in 6 months/1-2 years but they do carry a heavier financial burden at this point in their life…Forget about financial planning and living within your means, every knows that..if he/she doesn’t then there is no debate here.

    The point is the stress on these laid-off workers is much higher in my opion. They stand to lose everything that they have worked so hard to build up at this point in their mid career and all they have is a EI pay for 40-45 weeks. In this economy condition, finding a job let alone a good paying job is a much bigger challenge than losing 20-30% of your pension income…. The pensioner in Canada at least, can lean on the CPP and Old Age Security payment from the goverment if they have to.

    Saying all of that, in my opinion the level of greed, the unaccountability and the uncaring of the top execs in Nortel for their current and former employees are beyond humane. These people all have their nest egg stashed away and could not careless if the company closes its door tomorrow…they are trying to squeeze the last pennies from the company as the final curtain is drawn in.

    If they really care and want to accept the responsibilities for the failures, come to the campuses – face the music and provide the honest answers in front of the employees. Instead what they do are to hide behind the comfort of their offices surrounded by their spin doctors with prepared questions.

    I do hope everyone will find a greener pasture out there as they depart or “kicked” out of Nortel. Time to move on !


    February 4, 2009 at 8:04 am

  8. Irony, I have only responded in a heavy handed manner when others have made patently false accusations against me. For example one commenter accused me of leaking “internal company documents, strategies and plans” when I have done no such thing. Just as you would not stand for me spreading such lies, I cannot abide such malice.

    Desk Jockey

    February 4, 2009 at 8:36 am

  9. My suggestion to the readers / contributors of this blog is to become informed. The Epic Systems website has a wealth of information that explains a lot of what is going on. Although it probably helps to be a lawyer, you don’t have to be in order to sort through the information. If you start at docket 1 and move forward from January 14th, you can trace the first day motions and their evolution over the past few weeks. You can learn about the company’s corporate structure (eg. legal structure of subsidiaries, internal transfer payments, etc…). You can also learn about how the company has positioned the value of employees. Each motion from the first day is elaborated on in the subsequent days, which the ability for creditors to object to the emotions. For example, you can see some objections from certain utility companies on the motion, re: ‘forcing’ utilities to continue to provide service even without payment. You can also see the list of secured creditors, how much is owed, etc…. And you can learn about how Nortel has requested authorization to continue with customer programs, internal pay/benefits, selling of real estate, etc… If you get up to speed on what has been filed, then you can easily follow the progress. This might sound like a bit of work and you will likely have to do it in off hours, but if nothing else, it’s an informative exercise. You will also see that the company has to submit monthly operating reports, which they did recently. Intelligent, productive dialog can only happen when people are properly informed of the facts. This is public information that Nortel refers to on its external website.


    February 4, 2009 at 10:14 am

  10. sorry about typos in previous post. I meant to say “Each motion from the first day is elaborated on in the subsequent days, and provides the ability for creditors to object to the motions.”


    February 4, 2009 at 10:17 am

  11. OMG…..horrified cannot describe what I am feeling right now, after I read about the posted comment. Total lack of responsibility. Tickets, trips, private jet commutes…….The whole BoD and the executive team should respond to criminal charges.

    DJ: Great post. Keep it up.


    February 4, 2009 at 10:57 am

  12. Concerned, I appreciate your insightful and thoughtful comments.

    I disagree that the video was a “questionable prop”. Satire and parody are valid vehicles for criticism. Look at how shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have risen in prominence due to the acts of the former Bush Administration.

    And please note I have made no attempt to “censor” you like some of my critics have alleged. On the contrary, I encourage this sort of debate and always have!

    Where I draw the line is when people make false accusations against me, i.e. accusing me of disclosing company secrets in an attempt to help competitors and destroy Nortel. This is absolutely not true.

    Desk Jockey

    February 4, 2009 at 5:48 pm

  13. My father used to say “satire is the lowest form of wit”. In this case, I would agree. How can Hitler be funny? Really, if you think hard enough about it (if that’s required), it makes absolutely no sense. The use of Hitler as a way to make a point – even if others have done it – is sickening. Freedom of expression is a wonderful thing, but when you are positioning yourself as a representative of Nortel employees, I don’t believe you have the right. I would hate for the public to think that the general Nortel employee population supports the use of the video. I was hoping that you would see the light on this one, but clearly your response to my post indicates that you still disagree. I have therefore been more blantant about my opinion. You can say what you want, use what you want, but if so, please remove the gif at the top of your page that says “The view from within Nortel”.


    February 4, 2009 at 10:00 pm

  14. BTW Concerned, thanks for the double post here and on my About page. That makes your point twice as true! (Wait that was sarcasm… I guess that makes me have an even lower form of wit!)

    Desk Jockey

    February 4, 2009 at 10:38 pm

  15. DJ – I made a mistake in posting. Sorry about that. Please feel free to remove either one, or both, I don’t mind. I would have sent you an email instead of posting, but I’m not sure where to send it. I don’t like arguing on a blog. It makes me uncomfortable and I obviously didn’t express myself properly. My point is that I don’t think you have the right to speak on behalf of Nortel employees. You clearly have the right and freedom to say whatever you want about anything you want. I just don’t want you to speak for me, because I don’t agree with all of your comments – although I do agree with some of them. So my request was to simply position yourself (your blog) in a fair manner – that is, to speak for yourself, but not for others. Maybe I’m nitpicking on how your blog is marketed, but I do think that saying your blog is “The view from within Nortel” is innacurate. It’s not the only view, it’s just the view of one individual. If you give me your email address, I will stop posting here and send you a note from work.


    February 4, 2009 at 11:00 pm

  16. I guess I’m still trying to understand you. I initially welcomed your comments and even thanked you for your contributions to this blog and respected your opinions. (This can all be seen in this very blog article)

    Yet you chose to respond to this by insinuating I was stupid and dim-witted through an anecdote about your father. How do you expect me to react to this? With open arms? If you think that personal attacks will work on me, then you are mistaken my friend. Many have launched scathing personal attacks against me only to fail in their own rage.

    Your statements also carry a heavy handed and pretentious tone. Just because someone RESPECTFULLY disagrees with you, they are deemed not to “see the light” as if you were some prophet or agent of God himself.

    Nonetheless I see value in your statements despite all their flaws. I have therefore updated my About page to remove the offending statements and make corrections.

    Desk Jockey

    February 5, 2009 at 6:47 am

  17. Thanks for listening.


    February 5, 2009 at 7:47 am

  18. Just because someone RESPECTFULLY disagrees with you, they are deemed not to “see the light”

    dj, you don’t seem to “respecfully” disagree with anyone. just read all the posts that you put on your own blog. concerned has never launched a personal attack with you but yet you’ve gone out to insult him with your “im not allowed to disagree” banner. but yet concerened has shown true class throughout his posts.

    your blog is now officially laughable. and i’ll make it clear, i’m not launching a personal attack against you. it just seems that you’re falsely accusing concerned of insulting you and attacking you. well, all know how much you hate false accusations.


    February 5, 2009 at 8:30 am

  19. DJ, if you permit, one word of advise: Do not waste your time defending yourself to the brain washed. Honestly, the best gift that you can give yourself at Nortel is when you manage to keep your indpendent thinking and free spirit. Unfortunately, most just work on their visibility and in the process shut down their critical judgment. No wonder we are in this mess! The only way out is by having brilliant leaders who dare to differ from the masses. Anyway, enjoy your work and have fun expressing your thoughts. Cheers.


    February 5, 2009 at 11:28 pm

  20. “Haha”, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you did not read the full exchange between myself and Concerned. I will thus provide it for you:

    1) Concerned posted some valid concerns in his comments.

    2) I responded respectfully, to quote myself:

    “Concerned, I appreciate your insightful and thoughtful comments. I disagree that the video was a “questionable prop”…”

    3) Concerned responded with a passive-aggressive comment suggesting I was slow and dim witted by providing an anecdote about his/her father:

    “My father used to say “satire is the lowest form of wit”. In this case, I would agree.”

    He/she then went onto insist that agreeing with their point of view was necessary to be correct with this statement:

    “I was hoping that you would see the light on this one, but clearly your response to my post indicates that you still disagree.”

    I do not tolerate heavy handedness in people trying to force their view points on you by saying that you don’t “see the light” unless you agree with them. I did no such thing to Concerned and in fact welcomed his/her opinions until they stepped over the line, attacking me as being stupid for not agreeing with them.

    Please read over what I have wrote, and feel free to disagree with my point of view. But do not deny that I have never been personally attacked.

    Desk Jockey

    February 6, 2009 at 12:04 am

  21. DJ, i don’t know what you took out of concerned’s posts, but his main point was that you don’t represent all employees of nortel, as your previous banner, “the view from within nortel”, and some of your posts have suggested. the view? THE view? as in there’s one and only one view from “nortel insiders”???? you can claim that concerned has attacked you personally but he is absolutely RIGHT on this one, because it is a FACT that there are many view points other than yours!!! you can disagree all you want with your own view, which is obviously different concerned’s, but you would only prove him right!!! you would like to call yourself as “we” or “us” but you’re just one person representing one view from within nortel.

    and you’re offended by the words “see the light”??? personally, after reading some of your posts, i would think that you wouldn’t get upset over words like that after using ones like “foolish”, “ignorant”, “blind” to describe the ones who disagree with you, not to mention making false accusations calling your reader, Zebra, of being ““in” with the same people who are personally profiting, and continue to profit, off the hardships of others!” and “have personally profited from the situation that others have suffered”, yet you claim to have “only responded in a heavy handed manner when others have made patently false accusations against me”??? please…. you are a HYPOCRITE!!! you are no different than the people you are criticizing when you control the flow of information (or opinions) in your blog!!


    February 6, 2009 at 6:16 pm

  22. HaHa, Concerned. Tell Mike hellow for all of us. I don’t know where you work in Nortel, but I imagine it’s higher up then I. As for DJ not representing ALL Nortel employees that’s true and really is an absurd and idiotic statement from you. For when does anyone’s opinion represent everyone?

    I don’t know about ALL employees, but I can tell you this: Where I work EVERYONE thinks Mike Z and Joel Hackney should be drawn an quartered! If Nortel lends itself to satire and jokes then the responsibility lies directly upon these two men and most (if not all) of Nortels bankrupt management team!

    DJ – Don’t stop – maybe the bozo’s running this company will finally find out how their employees actually feel.


    February 7, 2009 at 10:07 pm

  23. Sorry for the spelling and grammar in the post above. I think everyone who reads here will understand what I’m trying to say, and for those self important, “I believers” to them I say – Go pack sand!

    I’ve been in the phone business for over 30 years and I can sum up what caused Nortels current position in several comments

    1) For years the executive managment has treated Nortel as thier personal cash cow. Each CEO taking their turn at the teet and miking it until dry and then moving on at the detriment of the employees and the company as a whole – Starting with Paul Stern to present.

    2) For the past 10 years, the executive management positions have been staffed by people who don’t understand the business or the customers they attempt to sell to.

    3) How many times have OUTRIGHT LIES been told to our customers to cover up the companies shortfalls in delivery schedules and system capabilities? More than I can remember. In fact, this whole company is built with “I believers” who maintain their jobs by kissing the asses ahead of them on the ladder.

    It’s sickening to me to see a company so great as Nortel succumb to these blithering idiots! And, in my opinion, anyone who defends these Six Sigma jerks and woman beaters is no better than those they defend.


    February 7, 2009 at 10:24 pm

  24. Keep up the good work and dont worry about people writing none sense….


    February 9, 2009 at 3:42 pm

  25. WTFOver and others,

    I don’t know the CEO or any of the officers for that matter, nor am I a “believer”. I actually never said that I disagree with DJ. I only said that I was “concerned” that he had stepped over the line when making his point, by using the Hitler video, and that aside from hurting his credibility, the video made me uncomfortable. Which is why I asked DJ to change his “About” section, which he kindly did after some stomach churning (for me) exchanges. I have tremendous respect for history – whether it be wars or Nortel (I know, it’s not the same). I have many opinions about what has happened at Nortel and am concerned (and hurt) about the current situation. Please don’t misinterpret my posts. Maybe I shouldn’t have used the “satire is the lowest form of wit” comment. I was referring to the satire used in the Hitler video – that’s all. I suppose I should be more explicit when posting.


    February 10, 2009 at 1:22 am

  26. “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16)

    Keep up the good work.


    February 25, 2009 at 12:02 am

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