Freedom Mobile threatens lockout of Windsor workers
Cell phone contracts
Published Saturday, September 16, 2017 9:51AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 18, 2017 3:04PM EDT
The union representing 147 employees at the Freedom Mobile call centre in Windsor says the company is threatening to lock out workers on Sept. 22.
After an all-day meeting Thursday in Toronto convened by the federal labour board's mediation service, the union claims Freedom, owned by telecome giant Shaw Communications, refused to improve its substandard offer.
Issues remaining in dispute are wage increases, seniority recognition and vacation rights, says the union.
The call centre is located at 525 Windsor Ave.
Freedom Mobile's threat to lock out employees comes on the heels of its refusal to improve a collective agreement offer that was rejected by employees in a vote held Aug. 10, according to the United Steelworkers, which represents the workers.
According to the union, many of Freedom's Windsor bargaining unit employees earn wages that are near the poverty line. At the same time, Shaw's corporate executives are well-known for their lavish compensation packages.
The median hourly pay in the Windsor bargaining unit is $13.68. For context, Shaw CEO Bradley Shaw's total 2015 compensation was $13.1 million – the equivalent of $6,718 an hour – 491 times the median hourly wage, according to a release from the union.
Freedom's call centre employees joined the United Steelworkers (USW) in January, winning their vote in the face of an aggressive effort by Freedom and Shaw to undermine their organizing drive.
"This company is choosing the low road and the public should know it," said Lee Riggs, President of TWU, USW National Local 1944. "Freedom told us that it wants to remain a low-cost operator. Yet its top executives rake in tremendous incomes."