Rimouski – The Telus workers’ unions affiliated with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are speaking out against the Harper government’s plan to offer Verizon Communications Inc. advantageous conditions for entering the Canadian telecommunications sector.
This September, Industry Canada will launch the tender process for auctioning off the public airwaves. CUPE is adding its voice to the growing number of companies and unions rising up against the Conservative government’s designs for this key economic sector.
“A major player like Verizon would easily be able to move into the lucrative urban markets at the expense of our rural communities,” stated Jean-Paul Laviolette, president of SAMT, the union representing first-line supervisors at Telus. “And we have yet to see any evidence that consumers in Quebec would benefit from bringing this new competitor onto the scene.”
Verizon is a well-established corporation more than three times the size of Telus, Rogers and Bell combined, but the federal Conservative government still seeks to ease its entry into our country.
Telecommunications: A regional economic driver
Telecommunications plays a key role in the economic development of every region in Quebec and generates jobs throughout the province.
“Our members have built a strong network in Quebec and work hard to provide quality service to customers in every part of the province,” added Diane Gagné, president of SQET, Quebec’s union of Telus employees. “The government policy giving Verizon preferential entry conditions into the wireless market and letting it use Telus’s network makes no sense whatsoever.”
The federal government should review its position before authorizing changes such as this in Canada’s telecommunications sector.
“Canadians should be extremely concerned about the potentially devastating impact of this kind of government policy on Quebec consumers and workers as well as on their families and communities,” concluded the union representatives.
SAMT represents 650 members and SQET more than 900 members throughout Quebec.
With more than 111,000 members, CUPE-Quebec represents approximately 9,200 communications workers in Quebec. CUPE is also active in a broad range of sectors, including health and social services, education, energy, Quebec government corporations and public agencies, air transportation, public transit, and universities.
Jean-Paul Laviolette, SAMT President – office: 418-722-6144
Diane Gagné, SQET President – office: 418-724-5044
Lisa Djevahirdjian, CUPE Information Service, cellular: 514-831-3815