Harper government should stop wooing Verizon Communications: Union

by: Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada | Press Release | July 29, 2013

CEP LOGOOTTAWA, July 29, 2013 – The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada stridently opposes advantages the Harper government is offering New York-based Verizon Communications to take over Canada’s telecommunications.

“Granting one of the biggest companies in the world special rights to public airwaves (spectrum), to buy small players and to existing companies’ networks may be the most ill conceived policy the Harper government has come up with,” says CEP President Dave Coles.

“In its ideological crusade to open the telecommunications sector up to foreign ownership the Conservatives are ‘gaming the rules’ in favour of a major US-based multinational,” says Coles.

“If the government is really concerned about protecting wireless consumers why not simply regulate pricing and contract rules,” says Coles. “Instead they are hell bent on foreign ownership of this country’s telco sector, which is bad for Canada’s workers, security and culture.”

In September, Industry Canada will start the bidding process for 700 megahertz spectrum considered the best spectrum that’s made available in decades. This bandwidth frequency will allow telecommunications companies to rapidly transmit large amounts of data, which will improve cellphone connections in rural areas as well as elevators, tunnels and other places where service is often spotty.

“We support granting rights to these valuable public airwaves in exchange for job guarantees, improved service for remote First Nations or to strengthen public ownership in the sector,” says Coles. “But discounting spectrum for a mega rich US based company is ludicrous.”

“Canadians don’t want their government to give special benefits to a company that’s blocked all the workers running its wireless network from union protection and that is deeply implicated in the recent NSA spying scandal,” says Coles.

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada is the largest union in several key sectors of Canada’s economy, including forestry, energy, telecommunications and media. The union’s 110,000 members work at a wide variety of jobs in hundreds of different workplaces across the country.