Rogers Communications says it plans to lock out nearly 300 unionized technicians, formerly with Shaw, after their union issued a strike notice for Monday.
The United Steelworkers (USW) union represents Rogers workers who support homes and businesses for internet, phone and television services in Metro Vancouver under their Local 1944, Unit 60 chapter.
It says that 99.6 per cent of workers voted in favour of strike action on Sept. 22, with USW saying that the company plans to increase the role of outside contract workers and erode union members' jobs.
However, the company has pushed back against these claims and says its latest offer actually promises job growth for unionized employees. It says the proposed lockout will ensure there is no impact on consumers.
Jayson Little, a staff representative for USW, said that former Shaw workers were cautiously optimistic for their jobs once a huge merger was approved earlier this year.
"Rogers made the commitment to the government ... to ensure that not only jobs would be maintained, that there would be an increase in jobs," he told CBC News.
"The message that we've heard loud and clear from the employer in this round of bargaining, is that they're really interested in expanding contracting out — and eroding the jurisdictional boundaries that we used to have between us and contractors."
A huge Rogers-Shaw merger was approved earlier this year, with Rogers promising to add 3,000 jobs in Western Canada as part of the terms. (The Canadian Press)
The union had already issued an overtime ban earlier this week, and was planning a series of rotating strikes following a full work stoppage on Monday.
Little says that unionized workers feel "disenfranchised and very disappointed" with their new employer, especially after Rogers said they would create 3,000 jobs in Western Canada under the terms of their large merger.
The two sides had been at the bargaining table since February as the union's members worked under the terms of their previous collective agreement, which expired in March. Little says that the union wants to get back to the table and get a fair deal for its members.
Rogers says consumers not affected
In a statement, Rogers said the Monday lockout was a "reluctant step" that came after the union refused to clarify its strike notice on Friday.
"Our goal has always been to achieve a negotiated settlement that meets the needs of our employees and our customers, and we've presented a fair and balanced proposal that would grow the units and protect jobs," wrote Rogers spokesperson Cam Gordon.
Gordon's statement said that the company was not looking to replace workers with contractors, and that its latest offer includes language to add 15 workers to the combined bargaining units, as well as backfill vacancies with full-time workers.
He added that Rogers' use of contractors has remained the same over the last few decades, and they are primarily used during seasonal shifts, resource shortages and new construction projects.
"We've activated our contingency plans so we can continue to carry out our critical work for our customers and meet their needs without interruption," he wrote of the upcoming lockout. "We remain ready and willing to get back to the negotiating table and work on a settlement agreement in good faith."