Calls for boy­cott

Sears Canada faces on­line back­lash over treat­ment of ex-em­ploy­ees

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - BY AD­INA BRESGE

Sears Canada is fac­ing a so­cial me­dia campaign call­ing for a boy­cott af­ter the com­pany said it planned to pay mil­lions in bonuses to keep ex­ec­u­tives on board dur­ing re­struc­tur­ing, while not of­fer­ing sev­er­ance to laid-off work­ers.

The re­tailer’s Face­book page has been flooded with com­ments from peo­ple vow­ing not to shop at Sears, and the hash­tag #Boy­cottSearsCanada has been gain­ing trac­tion on Twit­ter.

Sears Canada, which is op­er­at­ing un­der court pro­tec­tion from cred­i­tors, be­gan liq­ui­da­tion sales on Friday at 59 depart­ment and Sears Home stores slated for clo­sure.

The com­pany has said it plans to cut ap­prox­i­mately 2,900 jobs, with­out sev­er­ance, while pay­ing $9.2 mil­lion in re­ten­tion bonuses to key staff as part of a court-su­per­vised re­struc­tur­ing process.

Sears Canada spokesman Joel Shaf­fer has 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.

The deal was met with fierce back­lash from so­cial me­dia users, many of whom wanted the re­tailer to know they were tak­ing their busi­ness else­where.

Sears Canada de­clined to com­ment on the boy­cott call.

Re­tail an­a­lyst Bruce Win­der said Sears is up against a pub­lic re­la­tions “storm” that could spell the end of one of Canada’s most trusted brands.

“Peo­ple don’t like it when big brands be­have badly, in their opin­ion,” Win­der said in an in­ter­view. “It’s a pow­der keg for so­cial un­rest.”

Win­der, who co-founded the Re­tail Ad­vi­sors Net­work, said most con­sumers are work­ers them­selves and they have long mem­o­ries when it comes to per­ceived in­jus­tice against peo­ple they see as vul­ner­a­ble, such as re­tail work­ers.

He said the boy­cott could hurt peo­ple still work­ing at the stores, but it may not make a difference if the re­tailer goes out of busi­ness.

CP PHOTO/RYAN REMIORZ

Bar­gain hun­ters are seen at the Sears store Friday, July 21, in St. Eus­tache, Que­bec. Sears Canada is fac­ing a so­cial me­dia campaign call­ing for a boy­cott af­ter the com­pany said it planned on pay­ing mil­lions in bonuses to keep ex­ec­u­tives on board dur­ing re­struc­tur­ing, de­spite not of­fer­ing sev­er­ance to laid-off work­ers.

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