Members discuss industry challenges, opportunities at telecommunications conference

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Canada’s telecommunications industry is rapidly changing, and workers are driving the campaign to ensure that jobs at Canada’s largest telecommunications companies are good jobs where members are respected.

More than 170 members attended the Unifor Telecommunications Conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario from February 25-28, 2019.

“Telecommunications is one of the largest sectors in our union, and these workers are on the front line in the fight for decent work right across the country,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This is a rapidly-changing sector, which means at every turn, we are pushing back against corporate greed but also adapting to technological change.”

Ahead of the conference, members from every unionized Bell Canada workplace and Bell subsidiary met to discuss strengths, weaknesses and areas of improvement for bargaining committees and campaigns.

“Technological change, the effects of a 5G network and outsourcing are only some of the many factors at play in the telecommunications industry,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec Regional Director. “With massive changes underway, this conference offers a much-needed platform for members to strategize about bargaining priorities and member engagement going forward.”

The conference featured expert research on challenges facing the industry, technological change workers are dealing with and the ways in which the industry may evolve in the years to come, from 5G to beyond.

Telco local unions have been putting increased efforts towards membership mobilization in recent years, and this has resulted in major progress at the bargaining table and has helped build strong local unions. Other highlights included presentations by Political Action and Membership Mobilization, Strategic Planning and Communications department. These sessions focused on integrated approaches to preparing for bargaining, strategies to enhance member mobilization, and the resources available to support these objectives.

Guest speakers from UNI Global Union and the University of Quebec were also in attendance, shedding light on the global effects of outsourcing, how the international labour movement is addressing worker exploitation in receiving countries.

The conference offered delegates a platform to strategize for member engagement through local unions and to devise a broader legislative approach for addressing sector-specific challenges, including stacked ranking and other performance management measures. The conference closed with a commitment for action and unity across the sector.