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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Blackberry to close Bedford office

Three-hundred-and-fifty people out of work.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 10:22 AM

click to enlarge blackberry_fruit.jpg

Blackberry announced last week that it is closing its HRM office, where 350 people work. A handful of the local workers will be offered the opportunity to work at home, said the company, but the vast majority have been given notice that January 10 is their last day.

The company has been in a tail-spin since Apple’s iPhone overtook the sales numbers for Blackberries in 2010. Last month, Blackberry was purchased by Fairfax Financial Holdings, a Toronto company. A series of layoff announcements have followed.

Blackberry moved into its Hammond Plains Road offices in the company’s heyday, in 2006, thanks to a generous payroll rebate offer from the MacDonald government. That offer has resulted in $10,950,344 in direct payments from the province to Blackberry. Nova Scotia Business Inc, which oversees the payroll rebate program, distributed a “fact sheet” Friday that could perhaps better be characterized as a “spin sheet.” In it, NSBI argued that the payroll rebates alone were responsible for $146.2 million in Blackberry payroll over the years, and $16.5 million in tax revenue. But of course, $10.9 million in subsidies is $10.9 million in subsidies.

While the relative value of provincial subsidies is debatable, the disruption Blackberry’s closure has to the local employment scene is simple fact. Blackberry “is doing the bare minimum” for the laid-off workers, one of them tells The Coast. “If we stay [until January 10], we get a separation package at the end, of a few weeks’ salary. My problem is there are now 350 other IT people looking for jobs, who I’m competing with, and there aren’t that many jobs, so we all have to take what we can get. They want us to leave, so they don’t have to give us a package.”

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