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Update: Rogers issues lockout notice in response to Metro Vancouver strike

A 72-hour strike notice was issued Friday, impacting technicians in Richmond, Vancouver, Surrey and Langley.
Rogers technicians in Richmond, Vancouver, Surrey and Langley have issued a 72-hour strike notice.

Rogers Communications has issued a lockout notice after technicians in Metro Vancouver served a 72-hour strike notice to demand a fair contract.

The strike notice was served on Friday, Nov. 3 after negotiations broke down with the company.

“We are extremely disappointed and frustrated with Rogers and their actions at the bargaining table," said Jayson Little, spokesperson for the United Steelworkers Union (USW) Local 1944 Unit 60. 

The union represents about 300 Rogers Communications workers, who were previously Shaw Communications workers, in Richmond, Vancouver, Surrey and Langley.

"Our members refuse to accept a deal where they will likely lose their jobs while contractors do the work they perform," said Little, adding Rogers' latest offer was "a shameful attack" on union members, their families and the communities served by Rogers.

"We have no choice but to stand up and fight for our jobs."

The union is planning for a complete work stoppage at noon on Monday, Nov. 6, but Rogers has announced a lockout during the same time as a countermeasure.

"We’ve reluctantly taken this step to ensure we can continue to carry out our critical work for our customers and meet their needs without interruption," said Cam Gordon, spokesperson for Rogers. 

"Following the union’s notice of rotating strikes, they declined to further clarify, so we were left with no choice with this uncertainty. "

The collective agreement for union members expired on March 23 this year and workers are working under the same terms.

Negotiations began in February and the primary issue revolves around contracting out jobs, according to the union.

A strike vote held on Sept. 22 passed with 99.6 per cent of votes in favour.

In its announcement, the union said it asked its members to limit overtime last week, but claimed they faced retaliation from Rogers, who used replacement workers to fill overtime needs.

The union further claims Rogers' use of replacement workers goes against the company's commitment to create jobs. 

The workers' resolve has been strengthened by Rogers' use of replacement workers, said Little, but the union is frustrated by the lack of federal anti-scab legislation.

Rogers presented 'fair and balanced proposal': Spokesperson

In a written statement to the Richmond News, Gordon said Rogers presented a "fair and balanced proposal that would grow the units and protect jobs."

"It’s really disappointing the union took this step and is misrepresenting facts," said Gordon.

The News was told that Rogers' offer included plans to provide job security and reduce contractor use by growing the combined bargaining unit by 15 and backfilling vacated roles with full-time employees.

According to Rogers, the offer also includes language to prevent contractors from performing the same work in case of layoffs.

Rogers' contractor usage has remained consistent over the years, said Cam, and the usage of contractors allows the company to offset temporary workforce dips.

He added that Rogers will ensure critical work for customers can be carried out without interruption and Rogers remains "ready and willing to get back to the negotiating table and work on a settlement agreement in good faith.”

Gordon, on the other hand, told the News the union's direction to members last week would have made it "harder to fix services if customers experience a service interruption."

"We took immediate steps to ensure we continue to carry out our critical work for our customers and meet their needs without interruption. This includes redeploying employees and contractors,” he explained.

- With files from Daisy Xiong

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