Telus to implement most recent offer to union

Telus says that it is going to implement its most recent offer to the Telecommunications Workers Union in an effort to end the 4 1/2 year old dispute

Phone company Telus has taken another unilateral step in its fight with the Telecommunications Workers Union.

Telus said Tuesday that it is going to implement its most recent offer to the TWU in an effort to end the dispute which has left Telus employees without a contract for more than 4½ years.

As of July 22, the workers will be paid under the terms of a contract offer Telus made on April 13 and upgraded on June 14.

The union had previously rejected the offer and refused to put it to a vote, as Telus requested. "Since the company's offer was not negotiated with the union, it does not warrant a vote," the union said in a July 8 posting on its website. 

The union made a counter offer to Telus on June 22, which the company rejected completely, saying the TWU is living in the past, and "has refused to accept what is obvious to Telus, its employees, its customers and its shareholders: the telecommunications industry has undergone tremendous changes in respect of increasing competition, technology, regulation and customer requirements."

Telus needs "flexibility to compete on an even playing field with its competitors," the company said, while the union is "holding on to outdated views."

The union blames the impasse on Telus head Darren Entwistle "and corporate greed."

Entwistle, Telus president and CEO, said in a statement Tuesday that introducing the contract "is necessary to ensure that the TWU and our bargaining unit team members address our comprehensive offer of settlement."

He said the union's actions, including a ban on overtime, and its refusal to call a vote on the offer, are behind the Telus move.

The company has also been escalating its actions, suspending the grievance process, deferring wage and vacation increases, and stopping collecting union dues.

The union has tried to block the measures legally.

The Telus contract includes two per cent basic annual wage increases, but the company will not make promised lump-sum payments unless the union ratifies the deal.

Telus says it's the largest telecommunications company in Western Canada and the second largest in the country.

TWU represents about 13,700 Telus workers, mainly in British Columbia and Alberta. It began representing workers at BC Tel, which later merged with Alberta-based Telus.