|YPG TEAM Members TERMINATED!|
MTS Media Sale to YPG and the Termination of TEAM Members
October 13, 2006
On August 14, 2006 MTS met with representatives of TEAM and CEP, to inform them that the MTS Media business was to be sold to Yellow Pages Group (YPG), with a transaction closing date of October 2, 2006. TEAM was told that as a result of the sale, MTS Media, employees would have a choice who they worked for i.e. if an employee chose to stay with MTS, they would likely be subject to layoff, but in that event, they would be entitled to a VRIP or Severance. MTS stated that once employees were fully informed about the sale and their options, they would be given 10 days to make a decision. This commitment was repeated later that day at a Town Hall meeting with all the staff present, and then again on August 28, 2006. There were many questions from the members about their future and their pensions, (particularly their right to any lawsuit pension award), but MTS could answer only a few questions at that time, and everyone was reminded of the 10 days that would be available to make an informed decision.
In the week of September 16, MTS were showing signs of backtracking on their commitment to offer MTS Media staff the choice as to who they worked for. In response to pressure from TEAM, another Town Hall meeting was held, at which MTS now advised the employees that it had changed its position; there would be no choice, no staying with MTS, no VRIP, and no Severance. All employees were being forced by the sale, to transfer to YPG effective October 2, 2006, whether they wanted to go or not. During each and every meeting with the MTS Media staff, there was extensive promotion of what a great company YPG was, how they wanted every employee, and how every employee was being offered a job, etc. etc.
The sale was completed on Monday October 2, 2006 (Day 1), and as YPG senior management moved in, the MTS Media senior management was moved out. On Tuesday (Day 2), TEAM attended their first meeting with YPG, and after the usual discussions about the weather, TEAM was informed that ALL TWENTY-EIGHT TEAM members were to be terminated! YPG presented a three phase termination strategy; eighteen to be laid off immediately, three at the end of December, and seven at the end of March. On Day 3, TEAM met again with YPG, and a number of options were tabled. On Thursday (Day 4), all staff at Media/YPG was informed of YPG’s intentions, and Phase 1 was immediately implemented. In addition to the TEAM members being terminated, approximately thirty CEP members were also terminated effective immediately
TEAM is still negotiating with YPG and pursuing all possible avenues to help and support the members, including keeping their money in the MTS Pension Plan, (because this was also transferred to YPG when the employees were transferred with the business), and also ensuring that any termination agreement that a member may be asked to sign will not unreasonably impact the member, their rights, or their future employment prospects.
TEAM has filed grievances, (group, policy, and individual), with MTS with regards to MTS’s right to transfer employees with the business, reneging on commitments made to members, termination without notice, and numerous other violations of the Collective Agreement and Labour Law.
A meeting with the Media TEAM members was held Thursday October 5. The meeting was well attended, with members of the Government, the IFPTE and our Lawyer also in attendance. The mood was mixed, ranging from upset to anger, with a great deal of miss-trust toward both MTS and YPG. The MTS Media members were informed of the status of ongoing negotiations and assistance available to them from the Manitoba Government.
TEAM is continuing to explore all avenues open to them, and will meet again with the members on Tuesday October 17, 2006.
The announcement by MTS Allstream Inc. that the company was downsizing the Consumer Markets Division, (the original MTS/MTS Media), by 325 did not include the 107 staff that was told they had to go to YPG. This brings the total downsizing to 432, or, approximately 13 to 14 percent of the Winnipeg, Brandon and Regional Consumer Markets Division.