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Evolving Canadian Telecommunications Industry Impacts IFPTE Local 161

The Telecommunications Employees Association of Manitoba (TEAM/IFPTE Local 161) has represented supervisors, managers and other professionals in the provincial telecommunications company, Manitoba Telecom Systems Inc. (MTS), since the Local's inception as an association in 1972.

Recent years have presented Local 161 members with many difficulties and an uncertain future.

Since January 2015, IFPTE Local 161's jobs have been cut by over 25%, down from over 1,200 to less the 900 today. The cuts have resulted in unmanageable workloads and increased stress for many members.

On May 2, 2016, Bell Canada Enterprises Inc. (BCE), announced an all stock purchasing deal of MTS for an estimated $3.9 billion. For the acquisition to be successful, BCE was required to divest one third of its mobility wireless customers and retail locations to a competitor, TELUS Communications. With the purchase, BEC also indicated it would base its western Canadian operations in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

On March 17, 2017, BCE completed its acquisition of MTS, creating a new entity called Bell MTS. Although unwelcome, but not unexpected, the Local is facing yet another round of workforce reductions, this time by a further 10%. In an attempt to avert layoffs, the Local 161 leadership entered into an agreement, whereby the employer will offer an enhanced retirement/departure package for members who volunteer to leave. For some members, the departure package could be as much as 69 weeks pay; typical payouts will be closer to 40 weeks pay.

If the reduction target isn't achieved through voluntary means, significant effort will be put into redeploying Local 161 members to other areas of the business. The prospect that there may still be some layoffs is causing a great deal of anxiety for members in the targeted positions. If this downsizing can be achieved without layoffs, it will be a win-win situation for the Local, the employer, and the province of Manitoba.

5/9/2017 - Bell MTS to Shed Up to 85 Jobs in Manitoba (CBC News)

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