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Hundreds of Metro Vancouver Rogers workers could strike in October

Workers want job security after Rogers reportedly laid off employees following its merger with Shaw
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Several hundred unionized Rogers workers could take job action next month if both parties fail to renew a collective agreement.

Hundreds of Rogers workers in Metro Vancouver may go on strike in October after union members on Friday voted overwhelmingly in favour of giving their union the right to call for job action – including a strike.

About 300 members of the United Steelworkers union (USW) Local 1944 from Rogers Communications, formerly Shaw Communications before the two merged in April, participated in the vote and 99.6 per cent supported job action. USW said these workers have been in negotiations since February and continue to work under the terms of their previous collective agreement that expired on March 23. 

“We will be in a strike position at the end of October. If there is no movement in the days ahead to renew a respectable collective agreement that protects our jobs, then we will have no choice but to take further job action, up to and including a strike,” said Jayson Little, a USW spokesperson.

The union claimed that Rogers has “contracted” major investments in employment it promised to make in the next five years when its merger was being considered by the federal government. The commitment included creating 3,000 new jobs in Western Canada and to maintain that number of jobs for at least 10 years.

“Instead, Rogers turns around and offers voluntary severance packages and is now pushing for aggressive contracting out language in bargaining,” said Little.

Rogers reportedly offered voluntary departure packages to some employees in July  to “address some overlap in roles,” according to a memo to staff from CEO Tony Staffieri.

“Rogers needs to be building and strengthening its workforce in the West, not reducing its workforce by contracting out our jobs,” said Little. 

“Through this strong strike mandate, I hope Rogers and the Trudeau government have received a clear message that our members will continue to stand together to defend their work and against threats to erode their jobs.” 

Rogers didn’t respond to the vote result but, said in a written statement to the BIV that the company is “committed to its merger commitments, including creating thousands of jobs over the next few years as our business continues to grow.”

dxiong@biv.com

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