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Rogers reaches deal with former Shaw techs in B.C.’s Lower Mainland

Tentative deal would end dispute affecting 300 workers in wake of merging telecom giants

Rogers Communications Inc. has reached a tentative agreement with the union representing nearly 300 striking workers in Metro Vancouver after contract talks broke down and the company issued a lock-out notice earlier this month.

A statement from Rogers spokesman Cam Gordon says the company is pleased to have reached a tentative agreement, adding the goal “has always been to achieve a negotiated settlement that meets the needs of our employees and our customers.”

Jayson Little is a negotiator for United Steelworkers Local 1944 Unit 60 and says they are releasing details of the tentative deal to their members with a ratification decision expected Monday evening.

He says the agreement would help with job security and the bargaining committee will recommend its ratification, although he adds he thinks the company “could have done better with the wage offering” given cost of living challenges.

If members endorse the deal, Little says they could be back at work by Wednesday.

Rogers had issued the lock-out notice shortly after the union announced plans for a series of rotating strikes among former Shaw technicians in B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

At the time, the union said it issued the 72-hour strike notice after rejecting a proposal from the company it described as “a shameful attack on our members, their families and the communities Rogers serves.”

A statement from Rogers said it asked the union to provide clarity on the planned job action, but “no further details were shared,” and the company took what it described as the reluctant step to issue a lock-out notice and activate contingency plans to ensure it could provide customers with uninterrupted service.

The company did not confirm any details about the tentative deal or its timing.

The workers are former Shaw technicians who were absorbed by Rogers when the companies merged last spring. They support homes and businesses for internet, phone and television services in Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey and Langley, B.C.

The two sides had been negotiating since February as union members worked under the terms of their previous collective agreement that expired on March 23.

Workers voted 99.6 per cent in favour of a strike mandate in September, after starting a conciliation process with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

The union has said recent job losses associated with the merger, meant to reduce overlap following Rogers’ $26-billion takeover, call into question the company’s commitment to creating 3,000 new jobs in Western Canada over five years.

READ ALSO: Rogers to lock out former Shaw technicians after contract talks break down