BCE’s Olympic sponsorship draws fire from labour

B.C. Federation of Labour wants communications giant to settle pay equity case with operators, calls on Olympic committee to put pressure on Bell
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 07/20/2005

Bell Canada’s decision to put $200 million into sponsoring the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver is drawing the ire of the British Columbia Federation of Labour.

Delegates at the federation’s 48th convention in Vancouver passed an “emergency” resolution calling on members of the 2010 Winter Olympics Committee to demand pay equity for about 5,000 current and former Bell Canada operators who are owed up to $500 million in back pay.

The federation said Bell fully committed to a pay equity plan more than a decade ago, but “has since reneged and is stalling on settling the claim.”

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) union has taken the case before the Human Rights Tribunal but it won’t be heard until well until 2005, the union said.

“They’ve got hundreds of millions for an army of lawyers and millions more to sponsor sporting events and buildings like the Montreal Forum, but they can’t pay us what we’re owed,” said Monique Martin, an operator from Quebec.

Rocklee Jones, a former Bell Canada operator involved in the case, said, “Bell has paid $200 million for the 2010 Olympic contract. I’ve been waiting 12 years. That’s my money.”

Dave Coles, CEP Western Region vice-president, wants the 2010 Olympic Committee to show they’re committed to pay equity.

“(It) has been busy defending their Olympic rings brand, which is really about integrity and fairness,” said Coles. “Now it’s time to put their money where their mouth is and ensure their sponsors do the same.”

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