Shaw Communications is shutting down its Freedom Mobile call centre in Windsor, putting about 130 people out of work a year after the workers voted to unionize and only months after signing their first collective agreement.
“There’s no economic reason for them to do this. We consider this to be completely outrageous and completely unjustified,” Lee Riggs, TWU, USW National Local 1944 president, said Monday afternoon.
The merged Telecommunications Workers Union and the United Steel Workers represent the 130 workers who will lose their jobs in three layoffs beginning Wednesday. The other layoff dates are Feb. 21 and March 28.
Employees learned Monday at noon by email and the office at 525 Windsor Avenue was closed after lunch.
“This is going to have a devastating effect on the Windsor-Essex area, 130 jobs coming out of that area,” Riggs said.
Shaw said it is moving the call centre to Victoria, B.C. which Riggs said would be more expensive and makes no sense economically.
Riggs said Shaw which owns Freedom Mobile took an antagonistic stance against unionization in late 2016 and early 2017 and at one point threatened to lock the workers out. The start of the layoffs come at the one-year anniversary of the workers voting to unionize, Riggs said. Employees narrowly voted to ratify their first collective agreement Sept. 20.
The average wage was $13.68 which got bumped up with the recent minimum wage hike.
An employee who didn’t want to be identified for fear she would be laid off immediately said workers were in tears and in shock Monday.
By Sharon Hill, Windsor Star
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