Shaw has decided to downsize their workforce despite $155 million profit for Q1 in 2020

April 23, 2020 - For the attention of our members at Shaw: 

Recently you will have heard in the news that last quarter your employer, Shaw, posted their profit numbers at approximately $155 MILLION. This would normally be reason to celebrate, but unfortunately, Shaw has decided to take this opportunity to downsize their workforce, unfortunately including some of our members of Unit 60. 

While the company did come to the Union for consent to offer voluntary departure packages (as is required in the Vancouver and Surrey Collective Agreements) to members that may choose to leave voluntarily, the Union felt that this choice was best put to you to make based on your individual circumstances. However, throughout the discussions about this departure offer, we advised the company that this offer is far inferior to the offer that they gave to the non-Unionized employees only 2 years ago and that, in light of a global pandemic happening that has major impacts on the job market, the offer was not going to have a large take-rate. 

The company, in their hubris, stated that they felt their offer was extremely generous and they felt confident that they would get their desired reductions. This was not the case. 

While the Union does acknowledge that there are times when a workforce reduction is appropriate, we unequivocally denounce a profitable organization doing so during a global pandemic when there is still work for our members to do during this period! Telus, for instance, has not laid off any members because there is still plenty of work to do in the telecom sector at this time. In fact, Telus has been offering a tremendous amount of overtime and is hiring technicians in various cities and communities throughout Alberta and British Columbia. 

There are thousands upon thousands of fellow workers around the globe that are facing layoffs as their industries are severely impacted by Socially Distancing measures that are being undertaken. Telecom has not had this dramatic decrease in production or utilization, rather the opposite is true. There is more work not less as businesses struggle to increase their bandwidth to provide the ability for their employees to work remotely. 

Lay-offs are so commonplace in many industries because of this pandemic that the Federal Government has initiated programs that will subsidize employers up to 75% of impacted employees’ wages in efforts to keep as many people working as possible. Yet Shaw is downsizing. This is unabashed greed and an attack on the communities that you live, work and spend your money in. 

To add insult to injury, Shaw had mentioned, to both the Union and in an email to members, that layoffs may be considered should their voluntary reductions not meet their target reduction count. Yet, when the dust settled, the company then cited Automation to manipulate their interpretation of that article, and they are again laying off by job-title rather than by reverse-seniority. 

This attack on seniority and recall rights was the very subject of an arbitration that many of you will be familiar with which is commonly referred to as “The 54”. While we eagerly await the decision on that arbitration, we absolutely assure you that we will be holding the employer to task via the grievance process. 

It is absolutely important that we stand together and not let employers scare you into bad decisions. 

In Solidarity, 

USW Local 1944