Further to Bell applying for conciliation, triggering the countdown to a strike or lockout (April 26th TEAM memo), Bell has now given written notice that:
“should the parties not reach a revised collective agreement through the conciliation process, the Company shall terminate the current collective agreement in 90 days (August 4, 2019) and may unilaterally change the terms and conditions of your members' employment.”
Bell also states that it is their desire to reach an agreement (Bell’s letter); however, our experience at the negotiating table has seen little willingness of this from Bell, as detailed in the letter from our lead negotiator to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, asserting that:
“disclosure from Bell continues to be only partially provided on important issues”
“Bell has unilaterally walked out on two bargaining sessions half-way through each day”
“Bell unilaterally cancelled the entirety of two bargaining sessions”
“The parties have not yet met to discuss monetary issues”
Importantly, although a number of Bell’s proposals involve significant changes to working conditions and certain benefits, our negotiating committee’s request for Bell SMEs to provide information on how the new processes work and to discuss ways to mitigate the negative impacts, has been refused. While TEAM is open to exploring, Bell simply walked away.
Calling in the conciliator so early in the process, and then threatening to terminate our Collective Agreement and change our working conditions unilaterally, is a bullying tactic. While Employers who do this may say it is a tactic purely to speed up the process, it can be argued that it is also a useful tactic for employers intent on union busting and driving down pay and benefits.
We must all prepare for the worst, as we continue to work towards and hope for the best. It is prudent that members consider their own preparedness and financial position, including not carrying overtime that has not yet been recorded. For our part, we will continue to advocate strongly for your rights, pay, benefits, and a healthy workplace.
As we have been contacted by the conciliator, we are now able to add some dates to the conciliation/mediation timeline:
Bearing in mind that these are ongoing negotiations, within the next two weeks we aim to provide members with as much information as we are able on the matters being negotiated.
Members wishing to meet, individually or as a group, to discuss negotiations and/or other matters of concern over a coffee, can contact the TEAM office, 204-984-9470. Our Executive Director (Bob Linsdell) or Labour Relations Office (Erin Spencer) will be happy to schedule a meeting.