[R-G] Telus union protests job shift to Philippines
shniad at sfu.ca
Fri Feb 6 10:30:20 MST 2009
Vancouver Sun February 5, 2009
Telus union protests job shift to Philippines
By Brian Morton, Vancouver Sun
The Telecommunications Workers Union is angry about a plan by Telus to move 50 full-time positions from B.C. and Alberta to its operations in the Philippines.
“The work will still be done by Telus, but overseas and not in Canada,” the union’s national president, George Doubt, said in an interview this week.
“We’re unhappy about that. Telus earns money in Canada and has a duty to employ people in Canada.”
The shift also comes as Telus International opened its first call centre in the United States, a centre in Las Vegas that is slated to provide up to 1,000 jobs for the area as Telus seeks to provide services for clients that require them in both Spanish and English. The centre is opening with 200 people and is expected to grow up to 1,000.
Telus is also partnering in new call centre operations in Central America with locations in three countries, adding another 2,200 jobs there.
Of the 7,000 people who currently work for Telus International, the majority are in Manila.
The announcement of the move of the 50 full-time positions in western Canada will affect call-centre workers in Vancouver, Burnaby, Calgary and Edmonton.
Doubt said the union found out on Monday that approximately 300 employees were being offered a choice of a severance package or a transfer to another job, with the expectation that 50 would take it. “We thought we’d get more notice.”
He said there will be no layoffs, because the estimated 50 people losing their jobs at Telus’s Client Care Business Solutions and Complimentary Channels (which serves Telus’s small business clients) will be offered other work elsewhere in the company.
Telus spokesman Shawn Hall said in an interview that the decision to move the jobs to the Philippines is necessary for the company’s future.
“Part of it is about cost savings. We need to be more efficient,” said Hall. “This is about adapting to change in our industry.”
He also said that more jobs may be moved to the Philippines operation in the future. “That may happen.”
Hall said it’s important to note that none of the affected workers will lose their jobs, and none will be forced to move away from their communities. “Their pay and benefits won’t change.”
Doubt said Telus also announced recently that it is downsizing 70 to 80 clerical-support people for directors. They were also being offered severance packages or different jobs, he said.
Hall said Canadian employees who decline the severance package offer will do “related work in a highly-valued area of our company.”
He said the call centre in the Philippines now has 7,000 employees, but that Telus is still hiring in Canada.
“We employ 29,000 in Canada, and are continuing to hire in Canada in growth areas of our company. Last year, we created 125 new call-centre jobs in Burnaby to service consumer-wireless and TV customers.”
Hall said the people being offered severance packages have been given several weeks to respond. “We’re shifting skilled Canadian employees to growing areas of our company while working to be more efficient in areas of our company that are declining.
“This [moving jobs to the Philippines] is nothing new for Telus. We’ve been doing this every year since 2001. They [employees in the Philippines] have good pay and benefits.”
bmorton at vancouversun.com
with file from Gillian Shaw
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