Vancouver Rally Marks Second Anniversary of Ledcor Workers Strike

Militant Denunciation of Company and Government Violation of Workers' Rights

Since September 2019 members of IBEW 213 have steadfastly maintained picket lines at the Ledcor Technical Services (LTS) office in Port Moody and the company's head office in Vancouver. As the workers enter the 25th month of their strike, a militant rally was held at the LTS head office in support of their just demands and to denounce Ledcor and the federal government for obstinately refusing to settle a first contract for these workers. Speaker after speaker pledged their support for the workers’ just demands.

The workers joined IBEW 213 in 2017 and attempted to negotiate a contract with the company for two years to improve their wages and working conditions and put an end to LTS subcontracting their work. On September 30, 2019 they went on strike after the company laid off 31 workers without cause or notice. They have maintained picket lines at the LTS headquarters in Vancouver and at their workplace, now in Port Moody, ever since.

The workers' main work is the installation of fibre-optic cable. Telus and other major communications companies, besides employing their own workers, contract with companies like LTS which pays its technicians on a piece work basis which means they earn far less and have inferior benefits to Telus employees doing the same work. LTS in turn subcontracts work to other companies. The telecommunications monopolies use this method of subcontracting work to companies like LTS as a means of eliminating the permanent workforce and to turn all technicians into individual "independent contractors" without protection under the Canada Labour Code (federal) or provincial legislation, in BC the Employment Standards Act.

The rally on October 1 was organized with the support of the BC Federation of Labour, the Vancouver and District Labour Council, the New Westminster and District Labour Council and numerous unions including the Building Trades Unions, United Steelworkers, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and Unite Here Local 40. Speakers denounced the company for its treatment of the workers and the federal labour law that permits companies to use scab labour, as well as the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) for the delays in addressing numerous complaints filed by the union in 2019, not issuing its ruling until July 26, 2021.

Robin Nedila, IBEW 213 representative for the LTS workers, reports that "the CIRB found that LTS violated the Canada Labour Code by refusing to recognize IBEW 213 as the bargaining agent for all employees of the certification," a decision which "caused irreparable harm to the IBEW 213's bargaining potential." He explained that workers in one department were deliberately and strategically lied to by the company, told that they were not members of the union. The union's other complaints were dismissed.

In December 2019 the union applied to the Canada Labour Board to intervene and settle the terms and conditions of a first collective agreement as specified in section 80 (1)-(4) of the Canada Labour Code which allows the board to "inquire into the dispute and, if the board considers it advisable, to settle the terms and conditions of the first collective agreement between the parties." The Board deferred a decision on this application to after the decision of the CIRB on the union's unfair labour practices complaints.

The LTS workers have had broad support from workers and unions and the public throughout the strike. Those at the rally pledged their ongoing support, both financial and on the picket lines.

(Photos: WF, BC Building Trades, K. Ranaletta)

This article was published in

October 8, 2021 - No. 93

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