VANCOUVER - The decision by Shaw Communications to close its Freedom Mobile call centre in Windsor, Ont., is an unjustified attack on employees, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.
Shaw's decision to move its call centre activity to its operation in Victoria, B.C. will affect over 130 hard-working employees and their families in Windsor.
"Freedom and Shaw are demonstrating that they do not properly value either their loyal employees or the Windsor community," said Lee Riggs, President TWU, USW National Local 1944.
Freedom and Shaw took an antagonistic stance against the organizing efforts of employees to join the union in late 2016 and early 2017. After the successful vote in favour of joining in January 2017, Shaw and Freedom continued that aggressive stance during bargaining, threatening to lock out all bargaining unit members in September 2017. Employees narrowly voted to ratify a first collective agreement on Sept. 20, 2017.
While Shaw's corporate executives are well-known for their lavish compensation packages, many of Freedom's Windsor call centre employees earn wages that are near the poverty line. With revenue of $175 million in the last quarter of 2017, Freedom Mobile has the resources to reward its employees' hard work and their contributions to the corporation's profits.
"With this plan to close its call centre, Freedom is building a bad name for itself in the eyes of hard-working people in Canada. Profit is being chosen over fair treatment for employees," said Riggs.
"With over 1.18 million subscribers as of January 2018, Freedom Mobile contributes greatly to Shaw's profits. Shaw generously rewards its shareholders and executives. To take this action now against employees in Windsor is outrageous," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada.
Together, Shaw's top five senior executives made nearly $37 million in 2016.
The corporation's announced plan is for Freedom Mobile to schedule three waves of layoffs over the next few weeks, on Jan. 17, Feb. 21 and finally on March 28.
"These layoffs will add to the already challenging economic climate in the region," said Neumann.
"Freedom Mobile employees joined the TWU, USW National Local 1944 in January 2017. During the bargaining process, this corporation opposed reasonable improvements to its employees' pay and rights at virtually every turn. However, our negotiations led to a collective agreement and to some gains and stronger rights on the job for workers. We will hold Shaw and Freedom to their full responsibilities to treat employees better, following this outrageous and unjustified decision," Neumann added.
About the Freedom Mobile Windsor call centre
The call centre is located at 525 Windsor Ave.
The 130 employees voted to join the TWU, USW National Local 1944 in January 2017.
The median hourly pay in the Windsor bargaining unit is $13.68.
For context, Shaw CEO Bradley Shaw's total 2015 compensation was $13.1 million - the equivalent of $6,718 an hour.
About the TWU, USW National Local 1944
The TWU, USW National Local 1944 currently represents 130 members who work for Freedom Mobile in its Windsor call centre.
Overall, the Local represents more than 11,000 workers in the telecommunications sector across Canada.
The bargaining committee was composed of Bryan Adamczyk (USW Staff Rep), Jenn Bucholtz and John Hockley (TWU, USW National Local 1944 Union Reps), Jay Gannon, Christian Poisson and Tanya Travis Dunn (elected committee members).
About Freedom Mobile and Shaw Communications
Freedom Mobile, previously known as Wind Mobile, was purchased in 2015 by Shaw Communications for $1.6 billion.
For the three-month period ending Nov. 30, 2017, the company reported a net income of $114 million, with company-wide revenue totalling $1.25 billion.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Denis St. Pierre, USW Communications, 647-522-1630, email@example.com
Brett Barden, Executive Assistant to the TWU, USW National Local 1944 National President, 604-230-0553, firstname.lastname@example.org