The troubles at Telus

Once a month, North Okanagan Labour Council President David Doran writes a column about labour issues in Kelowna's Capital News newspaper. Here's his column for November, 2002:

Telus was created by the 1999 takeover / merger of B.C. Tel., and Alberta-based Telus, formerly a provincially owned phone company.

The takeover has taken two profitable companies and reduced them to the verge of bankruptcy. So badly has the company been managed that it no longer is on any of the top 10 lists in Canada. The reputation of the company as an employer has been damaged to the point where it has fallen right off the list of the top 100 employers in Canada, as cited in Maclean's magazine, after having a prominent position in earlier years.

However the CEO of Telus is rewarded by being, allegedly, the fourth highest paid boss in Canada. The misfortunes of the company are blamed on the very people who, by working hard, built the company.

Management decisions have made it impossible for people to do their job. If it isn't ongoing harassment, it is the constant changes being made by someone who has no clue about how work is actually done.

The newspeak of the corporate world, terms such as fresh start and flexibility are only subtitles for an attack being waged against unions and working people.

When it comes to a collective agreement, the company says it doesn't need a contract to know how to treat its employees properly. Management says it cannot live with contract clauses that are 50 years old. One of those clauses says they will treat all employees with dignity and respect. To try and force wage rollbacks, reduced benefits and contracting out of bargaining unit work because of corporate mismanagement is foolhardy when the senior executive is not prepared to any responsibility for the current state of affairs at Telus.

The CEO and the board of directors have driven the stock price down 300 per cent and cost their employees, retired workers, pension plans and seniors, hundreds of millions of dollars.

The shareholders of Telus rejoiced last week when the stock price soared. The workers' reward was to learn another 500 of them would be laid off.

While the employees have been subject to office closures, job loss and harassment bordering on criminal assault, the senior executives have given themselves bonuses.

If Telus wishes to regain its stature in Canada, it should practice what it preaches.” A fresh start” with a determined effort to reach a negotiated settlement that is fair and equitable to all.


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