In a bold move last year, Rogers Communications took an ambitious leap by acquiring its competitor Shaw Communications for an overwhelming sum of C$21 billion ($15 billion). The acquisition proposal sparked a wave of controversy, as this change threatened to reduce the Canadian telecoms market from four national operators to just three.
Negotiations were anything but smooth between these industry bigwigs, growing more complex over two years. Amidst the pressure exerted by government watchdogs, Shaw chose to part with its mobile utility, Freedom Mobile, facilitating the all-clear for the merger from regulatory authorities. Montreal-based wireless fundamental Vidéotron benefitted from the move, stepping in to fill the Shaw vacuum in Western Canada.
The venture embarked on with grand promises of job creation nationwide with 3,000 roles on the anvil over a five year term. This assurance, however, has lost its sheen. Fast forward six months post-merger completion and Rogers gravitated towards a rather unsettling move of job cuts, on the pretext of identifying “some overlap in corporate roles” across the board.
Rogers, however, maintains a convoluted stance on the subject. In response to the backlash over job eliminations, the company stood its ground claiming the addition of 2,000 personnel subsequent to the merger and going a step further to reiterate its commitment to fostering job creation in the coming years.
Regardless of these assurances, the ambiguity stays with doubts swirling among the company’s employees. Last year, an astounding 99.6% of the former Shaw technicians, amounting to approximately 300, greenlighted a strike fearing job losses, complaining of being superseded by contractors.
Jayson Little, spokesperson for the United Steelworkers union, voices the fears of the workforce, “They’ve just started to rely more and more on contractors to do that work,” he said. Summarizing the feedback from Rogers, he added, “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.”
The company, however, argues asserting the consistent use of contractors aligned with its past few decades’ operations and indicating that this count will not escalate. Rogers spokesperson Cam Gordon assures, “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 further claimed readiness to re-negotiate and reach an agreement in good faith.
Given the history of impasses in the discussion, it appears that this discord isn’t likely to untangle in the immediate future. The changing telecommunications landscape poses challenges, with the Rogers-Shaw merger just a glimpse into the maze of competition and corporate survival.