Freedom Mobile Workers Eye Unionization Amid Ownership Change
Following the recent sale of Freedom Mobile, Teamsters Canada, a prominent labour union, has noted an increased interest in unionization among retail and call centre employees at the telecom.
When Rogers and Shaw completed their massive merger this April, Freedom Mobile was transferred to Quebecor’s Videotron.
According to Christopher Monette, the public affairs director at Teamsters Canada, this change in ownership has incited concerns among the workers about their future, prompting many to reach out to the union. Since the merger, the union has been engaged in hundreds of discussions with workers from across the nation.
While no significant alterations have been announced for Freedom Mobile’s retail or call centre workforce following the acquisition, Monette reported a rising sense of uncertainty among the employees. This feeling has led workers to seek ways to safeguard their jobs, wages, and working conditions.
The acquisition has “set off a wave of uncertainty and anxiety among workers at the company, who are now looking for ways to protect their jobs, protect what they have in terms of wages and working conditions, and, indeed, maybe even go out and secure even better wages and working conditions,” Monette told The Canadian Press.
Economist and labour expert Jim Stanford indicated that the unionization of call centre workers is not a new phenomenon given the challenging nature and low pay associated with the job. He noted that the corporate uncertainty triggered by the merger has likely intensified workers’ existing concerns.
Teamsters Canada is planning to organize all workers under one bargaining unit via the Canada Industrial Relations Board, owing to the telecommunications sector being federally regulated. The union believes that this strategy will simplify the process for both workers and the union, considering the federal certification process is less complicated than most provincial ones.
Monette also linked this growing interest in unionization to a broader trend among retail and service workers, amplified by the pandemic and inflation. He concluded by saying that if Freedom Mobile employees succeed in their unionization efforts, it could send a strong signal to workers in similar sectors.
So far, Freedom Mobile under Videotron’s ownership has debuted some competitive wireless plans, particularly a $50/40GB Canada-US roaming plan that undercuts Rogers, Telus and Bell. The plan has only been matched by Fido in Quebec.