Rogers Locks Out Former Shaw Employees That Plan to Strike

Rogers is set to lock out nearly 300 former Shaw technicians on Monday, following a breakdown in contract negotiations.

This decision comes after the United Steelworkers union Local 1944 Unit 60, representing workers in Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, and Langley, B.C., announced its intention to initiate rotating strikes starting noon on Monday.

The union rejected a proposal from Rogers, describing it as “a shameful attack on our members, their families and the communities Rogers serves,” reports The Canadian Press.

In response, Rogers stated it would lock out the employees to ensure uninterrupted service to its customers. “Following the union’s notice of rotating strikes, they declined to further clarify, so we were left with no choice with this uncertainty,” said Cam Gordon, Rogers spokesman.

“Our goal has always been to achieve a negotiated settlement that meets the needs of our employees and our customers, and we’ve presented a fair and balanced proposal that would grow the units and protect jobs,” he added.

The technicians in question provide internet, phone, and television services in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, and were absorbed into Rogers after the latter acquired Shaw earlier this year. The primary concern of these technicians revolves around job security, with allegations that Rogers is increasingly relying on contractors.

Jayson Little, USW spokesman, stated that Rogers remains firm on its stance to contract out specific tasks traditionally handled by unionized members. He emphasized that the planned rotating strikes aimed to minimize disruptions for customers, but Rogers’ lockout decision would result in a complete work stoppage. “The workers are being forgotten in all these conversations about mergers and acquisitions,” Little remarked.

The union has raised concerns over recent job losses following Rogers’ $26-billion acquisition of Shaw, questioning the company’s pledge to create 3,000 new jobs in Western Canada within five years. “They make commitments publicly and then behind the scenes, they pull the rug out from under their employees and our members,” Little added.

Negotiations between the two parties have been ongoing since February, with workers operating under a previous agreement that ended on March 23. After a 99.6% vote in favor of a strike mandate in September, the union recently urged workers to reduce overtime to pressure Rogers. However, according to Little, Rogers responded by employing “scab labour” for overtime requirements.

Gordon refuted claims that Rogers is “replacing technicians with contractors.” He highlighted that Rogers’ recent proposal included provisions to increase the bargaining unit by 15 members and replace vacant positions with full-time employees. Rogers maintains that its use of contractors is to manage seasonal work fluctuations and address resource shortages.

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