Bell ExpressVu lock out of staff illegal: Labour board

Key issues in dispute are wages, benefits and language

Bell ExpressVu has illegally locked out its staff, according to a July 13 ruling by the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB).

About 115 members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) Local 79M were given lockout notices on July 10 and told not to return to work during the 72-hour notice period.

"The Board has acknowledged that employees were sent out on an illegal lockout", said Mike Kachurowski, CEP National Representative. "Our members are in the process of negotiating a first collective agreement and breaking the rules is not the way to start off a relationship."

Key issues in the dispute are wages, the salary grid, vacations, workplace adjustments and industry-specific language.

Negotiations have been ongoing since April to secure a first collective agreement for the employees. The employees rejected a first offer from Bell ExpressVu on July 10 with 88 per cent voting against it.

"This kind of tactic is disingenuous and attempts to force employees to accept bad deals," said Kachurowski. "What we need is to get back to the bargaining table and work towards a TV agreement for TV employees".

Bell hasn’t commented on the ruling.

CEP Local 79M members are technicians that maintain the television provider’s signals to more than two million Canadian customers.

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