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Montra006c, Friday, May 3, 2002 – The approximately 2,200 employees of the biggest cable distribution company in Qub0065c will go on strike, starting at one minute after midnight next Wednesday, May 8. This strike is being called after the entire personnel of Vido0074ron Ltd (cable and Internet) rejected the “offers” made by the employer and more than 99% voted in favour of the strike. This morning, union representatives transmitted the formal strike notice, in compliance with the conditions stipulated by the Canadian Labour Code.

Yves Lalonde, president of CUPE 2815 (employees for Vido0074ron – Western Qub0065c) knows the conflict could be long, but does not consider this to be ordinary negotiations. “The key point here is they’re talking about breaking up the company, pure and simple,” explained Mr. Lalonde. “After buying Vido0074ron for top dollar, with the help of the Caisse de dpt, Pierre Karl Pl0061deau now wants to sell off the parts.”

Clearly, the strike could affect subscribers, because, predictably, the quality of customer services will suffer. The months of May and June are a very busy period for subscribers, with a great many people in Qub0065c planning to move July 1. This particular conjuncture could put further pressure on Vido0074ron services.

Profits for Vido0074ron

On February 15, Quebecor made public the financial results of its subsidiaries for the fiscal year ended at December 31, 2001. Compared to 2000, Vido0074ron revenues grew 7.7% in 2001 ($709.6 million compared to $659 million in 2000), and operating income (revenues minus operating costs) was up 15.8% ($271.9 million compared to $234.9 million in 2000), as was the gross margin (gross profit), at 38.3% versus 35.6% in 2000. These results were achieved in a single year, despite the loss of 46,000 subscribers alleged by Quebecor.

Despite these very positive results, Quebecor is demanding employee cutbacks to the tune of $30 million. If they were accepted, these demands would mean the loss of more than 1,000 jobs at Vido0074ron. The demands of the employer are based on outsourcing, subcontracting and a brutal reduction in working conditions for personnel. As a case in point, the technicians Quebecor wants to sell to Entourage Solutions technologiques would see their salaries drop by 31% to 34%, not counting the loss of other benefits, such as their pension fund.

One will recall that at the time of the purchase of Vido0074ron by Quebecor, several of our politicians repeatedly said that Qub0065c should not let this major Qub0065c communications company fall into the hands of Rogers, a cable distribution company in English Canada. It is sad to see that today Quebecor Media wants to simply break up Vido0074ron to maximize its profits.

The personnel at Vido0074ron Ltd (cable and Internet) is represented by two CUPE unions, Local 2815 for Western Qub0065c (about 1,800 members) and Local 1417 for Eastern Qub0065c (about 380 members). Counting a total of 7,000 members in communications in Qub0065c, CUPE is present in several other sectors, notably health and social services, education, urban transit, air carriers, government-owned corporations and public organizations in Qub0065c, hydroelectricity and municipalities. With nearly 100,000 members in Qub0065c, CUPE is the largest affiliate of Quebec Labour Federation (QLF).

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