Shaw employees strike vote

A union representing about 500 employees of Shaw Communications in British Columbia says they have voted in favour of strike action by a large majority.

The 98 per cent of votes cast in favour of a strike at United Steelworkers Local 1944 provides a clear mandate, said Union chief negotiator Lee Riggs in a statement.

"Our members showed determination in defending their rights against an employer that is showing little respect to them. I am proud of this strong strike vote, which shows how united our members are and that they are ready to fight back."

Riggs said the USW's main goal is to negotiate a new contract, not go on strike, but the union says it plans to issue a 72-hour strike notice to Shaw on Sunday.

The USW says Shaw is demanding wage freezes, the elimination of job security and an erosion of work done by its members.

The union says both its Surrey-Langley and its Vancouver-Richmond divisions voted in favour of strike action. Unionized Shaw employees in the four B.C. cities haven't had a contract since March 23.

The employees are technicians who install internet, phone and television services for both home and business clients.

Shaw closed a unionized call centre in Windsor, Ont., in March and consolidated its work in Victoria.

Earlier this year, about 3,300 non-union Shaw employees decided to take a voluntary severance package, which wasn't open to employees covered by a collective agreement. Departures were to be spread out over 18 months.

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