At the recent National Sector Council Conference, held virtually in the fall of 2020, the communications sector met and discussed some of the hard truths of telework.
“We recognize that telework is now a reality for many and we need to address some of the adverse effects of working remotely,” said Daljeet Matharu, the co-chairperson of the communications sector and a member of CUPE 1000.
Physical layout of the work
Employers have a duty to provide work tools and see to it that health and safety concerns of workers are addressed. There are many issues associated with the physical layout of the home office space. Teleworkers must have access to the equipment they need – computers, chairs, communication devices, etc. “Ergonomic concerns must be given their proper due because, if not, physical problems such as backaches may arise,” said Brian Leclerc, a Telus worker and member of CUPE 5144.
Requirements and supervision
According to participants at the conference, many employers have shown they are flexible when it comes to telework, during the pandemic.
“Telework rules and conditions must be negotiated, and we must work to ensure that there is a clear delineation between the working lives and the private lives of our members, said Tulsa Valin-Landry, from CUPE 2815 and President of the CUPE Quebec communications sector. We must be vigilant with regards to employers potentially using electronic surveillance,” he added.
Worker isolation and the potential to create different class of workers
Teleworkers face physical and social isolation. “There’s a real danger of creating different classes of workers for the same job, with different wages and working conditions,” said Éric Pinsonnault from CUPE 3624. “The isolation of workers represents a challenge for our unions to improve the sharing of information and maintain a sense of belonging and solidarity,” added Anne Leclair, from CUPE 4502.
The work of the sector continues as we face increased technological change and remote working.