Demonstration at Bombardier over higher compensation for top management

Protesters targeted Bombardier as the firestorm over executive compensation continues.

There was a midday demonstration at the downtown Montreal headquarters of the transportation giant on Sunday.

The company has been under fire since compensation to chairman Pierre Beaudoin and five senior executives soared to more than 32-million dollars last year, up from 21-million in 2015.

CTV's Amanda Kline reported people from all walks of life took part in the protest.

"Regular Montreal residents, as well politicians, many, many types of people in a rare moment of political unity here in Quebec, everyone denouncing the fact that Bombardier is giving these increases to its top executives, especially when recently the company has laid off close to 15,000 employees around the world, so, really, really upset", added Kline.

Some 200 protesters chanted in French "shame to Bombardier!''

Jessica Lacombe, a teacher, carried a sign that read "I'm still waiting for my invitation to Bombardier's shareholders' meeting.''

She said the company's actions are especially hard to take after years of government austerity that have included cutbacks to health and education.

"If it's private money they can do what they want, but now it's public money,'' she said.

"It's our taxes, it's our money.''

The Quebec government gave Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) roughly US$1 billion in 2016 while the federal government recently announced a $372.5-million loan package for the firm's CSeries and Global 7000 aircraft programs.

Quebec cabinet minister Jean-Marc Fournier was hoping to speak with reporters, but the protesters chased him away, according to Kline.

Protesters even threw garbage at him and chanted for him to leave. 

Beaudoin announced late Friday he's asked the board to scale his pay back to 2015 levels.

Bombardier issued an open letter on Saturday explaining the company's compensation policies and called it "inappropriate'' to compare the 2016 compensation to that of the previous year.

Bombardier must compete with firms globally to recruit and retain talent, said the letter from Jean Monty, the head of Bombardier's human resources and compensation committee. 

It also contended that 75 per cent of compensation for most senior Bombardier executives is based on meeting performance targets and is not guaranteed.

A spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents some 4,500 Bombardier workers, called Beaudoin's decision "a step in the right direction.''

David Chartrand said the bonuses could be seen as disrespectful to workers, especially since Bombardier is eliminating 14,500 jobs around the world by the end of next year.

"They say that they need us to tighten our belts and need sacrifices from the employees, it's a little disrespectful to ask that from the employees when they give themselves these kinds of bonuses,'' he said.

A Leger poll suggests 93 per cent of respondents oppose the increases.

The Parti Quebecois said it plans to table a motion on Tuesday in the National Assembly asking all Bombardier executives to forego the extra money.