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Canada’s ‘Worst Boss’ Might Be Medtech OEM Owner, Says Trade Union

In an email to staff just before a long weekend, Best Theratronics owner Krishnan Suthanthiran went on a rant, deploring the number of holidays workers in Canada are entitled to and the resulting “unsuccessful” manufacturing landscape.

Norbert Sparrow

May 26, 2024

2 Min Read
striking workers
Image courtesy of Unifor/Cision

When an email from Best Theratronics (BTL) owner Krishnan Suthanthiran landed in employees’ inboxes on May 18 ahead of the Victoria Day long weekend, they might have expected a rote corporate message encouraging them to enjoy the down time. What they read went in a wildly different direction.

Instead, Suthanthiran lamented the fact that it seemed like “every other weekend is a long weekend in Canada,” cratering productivity. “Canadian manufacturing has not been very successful,” he added, citing companies such as Bombardier and Blackberry that he believes are facing similar challenges to BTL.

Suthanthiran claims in his email that he “works every day, seven days a week, my habit since childhood,” apparently suggesting that BTL workers should emulate his lifestyle.

Workers on strike since May 1.

It’s worth noting that some BTL workers have been on strike at the Kanata, Ontario, facility since May 1, 2024, after rejecting a two-year offer that did not include any pay increases, according to Unifor, the trade union that represents the workers. Unifor made Suthanthiran’s email public via the Cision website. The email was only addressed to non-striking staff; Suthanthiran said he would draft a separate email concerning his discussions with union representatives.

He did obliquely mention the strikers in his Victoria Day holiday email, however, scolding them in a bizarre manner. “Mind is a terrible thing to waste,” he writes. “I feel sad that some of our team members have traded a fully air-conditioned work space and [four] regular healthy meals . . . for an unpredictable weather of heat, cold, rain, and hanging out outside our building, with no bathroom facilities or free healthy meals, but have to pay out of their pocket with a small handout for any meals they purchase.”

BTL manufactures external beam therapy units, blood irradiators, and cyclotrons, which it supplies to hospitals and medical research centers globally. It is part of TeamBest, a multinational medical company founded in 1977 in Springfield, VA, by Suthanthiran, which has facilities in Vancouver and several US locations as well as India, France, and Italy.

Moving jobs out of Canada.

Suthanthiran recently announced that he is planning on expanding manufacturing operations in the United States and India in the coming years. No mention was made of Canadian operations in that press release, but he did stress in his email to staff that “as a result of recent challenges in manufacturing products at BTL/Kanata, I am now transferring the work at BTL to our other . . . companies globally as well as other outside contractors.”

"Out-of-touch millionaire."

In response to the email, Unifor characterized Suthanthiran as an “ultra-wealthy, out-of-touch millionaire who may very well be in the running for Canada’s worst boss.” Unifor National President Lana Payne added: "For being the owner of a medical supply company, Suthanthiran sure has some unhealthy views. Insulting, bullying, and demeaning our members and now threatening workers' jobs has no place in this day and age.”

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.


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