JOINT TWU-USW MEDIA RELEASE
VANCOUVER, Sept. 16, 2013 /CNW/ - The Telecommunication Workers Union (TWU) and United Steelworkers (USW) welcome the news that Verizon will not enter Canada's wireless sector under the privileged terms put in place by the federal Conservatives, but believe that this news should not end the needed public debate about telecommunications policy.
"We clearly and consistently pointed out that giving Verizon preferential access to Canada's wireless infrastructure and spectrum would be a bad deal for Canadian workers and consumers," said Lee Riggs, National President of the TWU, which represents 13,000 Telus, Shaw and other employees and recently announced a merger agreement with USW. "Now we want to ensure that the government does not rush into another failed policy direction in telecommunications."
"Right off the bat, we should maintain existing limits on foreign ownership of telecommunications," said Ken Neumann, USW's National Director for Canada. "Too many working people and communities have already borne the brunt of foreign takeovers of Inco, Stelco, Alcan and other formerly Canadian companies. The Investment Canada Act falls far short of what is needed to ensure that foreign investment truly helps Canadian workers, families and communities".
The official opposition New Democratic Party has called for parliamentary hearings on telecommunications policy. Unfortunately, the governing Conservatives have again shut down Parliament.
"The Prime Minister should recall Parliament as scheduled this month to deal with important national issues, including public hearings on telecommunications," said Neumann.
The telecommunications industry has particular characteristics that impede competition: it is very expensive to build the infrastructure, but very cheap to add new customers once the system is in the place. The federal government has tried to create competition by mandating that companies may access each other's infrastructure, setting aside spectrum for new entrants, and making other interventions in the market.
"As our two unions come together, we'll be consulting our members about their vision for the future of our industry." said Riggs, "Our members want to talk about keeping jobs in Canada and about protecting consumers. Rather than struggling to artificially engineer competition or giving special advantages to giant multinational corporations, it is time for parliamentary hearings about this vital public resource"
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Lee Riggs, TWU National President, 604-437-8601
Ken Neumann, USW Canadian National Director, 416-544-5951
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-434-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org
TWU website: www.twu-stt.ca
USW website: www.usw.ca