Freedom Mobile Employees Reject Company Offer, Seek Renewed Bargaining

 

WINDSOR, ON, Aug. 11, 2017 /CNW/ - Seeking more respect and fairness from a successfully rebranded and growing telecom business, Freedom Mobile's call centre employees in Windsor have voted to reject a substandard contract offer from the company.

"These employees make a huge contribution to Freedom Mobile's success and this vote should kick-start renewed talks toward a fair collective agreement," said Ken Neumann, National Director of the United Steelworkers (USW), which represents the 185 customer care employees at Freedom Mobile's Windsor call centre.

"It is completely reasonable for these employees to expect that their hard work and years of service should count for more," Neumann said.

The Windsor call centre employees joined the USW in January and began negotiations for their first collective agreement in March. Last week, Freedom Mobile tabled what it called a "final offer" and the union's bargaining committee agreed to put it to a vote by employees, with a unanimous recommendation by the committee for rejection.

The union's bargaining committee recommended rejection of Freedom's offer on the basis that it lacked basic seniority rights to recognize employees' service to the company; it sought a divisive, two-tier system in which new employees would be saddled with inferior vacation rights; and it proposed inadequate wage increases.

The company's contract offer was reviewed by employees Thursday during four meetings held throughout the day at a Windsor hotel. Employees held a secret-ballot vote and the offer was rejected.

"This was not the right way for Freedom Mobile and its parent company Shaw Communications to display how much they value their employees," said Lee Riggs, President of the Telecommunications Workers Union, USW National Local 1944, which represents more than 11,000 telecommunications sector workers across Canada.

"Freedom and Shaw have the means to do better by their employees. Now they have a new opportunity to do that," Riggs said.

"We are ready to return to the bargaining table right away to negotiate a fair deal that is good for employees and for the company," said a joint statement from Jasen Gannon, Tanya Travis Dunn and Christian Poisson, Freedom call centre employees and members of the union's elected bargaining committee.

"Our members work hard every day in an environment that can often be stressful. In recognition of our contributions to the company's success, we are asking for fairness, respect and reasonable improvements to our working standards," the employees stated.

"After counting the votes last night, I contacted Freedom's lead negotiator to tell him that we are ready and willing to meet anytime, anywhere, to resume negotiations to achieve a fair collective agreement," said Bryan Adamczyk, USW Staff Representative.

"We expect that Freedom will do the right thing and agree to resume good-faith negotiations with its employees," Adamczyk said.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951; Lee Riggs, President, TWU, USW National Local 1944, 604-230-0553; Bryan Adamczyk, USW Staff Representative, 647-234-0466, badamczyk@usw.ca; Denis St. Pierre, USW Communications, 416-544-5990, 647-522-1630, dstpierre@usw.ca

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