Harper government telecom policy in disarray, Unifor says
TORONTO, Oct. 8, 2013 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX) --
Industry Canada's rejection of a planned
investment in MTS-Allstream for unspecified national security reasons
is another sign the federal government's entire telecommunications
policy has failed, said the leader of Unifor, Canada's largest
"The federal government has completely mismanaged the policy framework
for this industry," said Jerry Dias, National President of Unifor.
"The bizarre rules for the coming spectrum auction, and the
inconsistent and arbitrary approach to foreign ownership, have created
nothing but confusion and uncertainty across the industry."
Unifor, the union formed on Labour Day by the former Canadian Auto
Workers and Communications Energy and Paperworkers unions, represents
some 30,000 workers across Canada's telecommunications sector -
including workers at MTS-Allstream. MTS-Allstream had reached an
acquisition agreement with Accelero, an international firm, that would
facilitate new capital spending and Allstream's expansion. Industry
Canada suddenly notified the company of the rejection of the deal late
yesterday, just before the timeline for federal review expired.
For decades, Canada's telecommunications sector was off-limits to
foreign corporations, but the Harper government began opening loopholes
for foreign investments in its 2012 omnibus budget bill. The
government claims its policy will facilitate the emergence of an
elusive "fourth national carrier," which would supposedly create
benefits for consumers. This was also the rationale behind other
policies, like rules in the coming spectrum auction which clearly
favour foreign entrants, and restrictions on purchases of smaller
companies by the three existing Canadian-owned major suppliers.
"MTS-Allstream is a collateral victim of the federal government's
misguided, confusing policies," said Dylan Gadwa, President of Unifor
Local 2000-A which represents workers at the company. "Industry Canada
says our operations are of vital national interest, and that's why they
rejected the Accelero deal. Then the government owes it to Canadians
to ensure the future stability of these vital jobs, under an
alternative ownership structure."
"This industry, and all the Canadians who work in it, needs sensible,
stable ground rules - and fast," Dias added.
Unifor restated its position in favour of consistent and clear
limitations on foreign ownership, a National Wireless Code to protect
consumers (including with regulations on roaming charges, contract
length, and other practices), and Canadian-content thresholds to
prevent the offshoring of Canadian telecom work to foreign
SOURCE Unifor the union
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SOURCE: Unifor the union
For further information, contact Unifor Communications Director Shannon Devine
(cell) 416-302-1699 or Unifor Local 2000-A (cell) 416-628-1324
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