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Manitoba IFPTE members facing cutbacks

The Society’s sisters and brothers of IFPTE Local 161, which represents professionals at Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS), is facing difficult news after their employer announced cutbacks in September.

The latest cut of 50 jobs comes on the heels of 200 job cuts last December.

While the union and company hope these cuts can be achieved through attrition, Local 161 Executive Director Bob Linsdell said that those still with the company worry about how they will cope with fewer workers.

“Some of [the remaining workers] are already feeling maxed out. I’d say that is probably the biggest fear: Workload issues. More work than people can handle and remain healthy at the same time,” Linsdell said.

The downsizing is part of a merger underway with Bell. Local 161 has also received no assurances of how much work will remain in Manitoba once the merger is completed.

Local 161, known as the Telecommunications Employees Association of Manitoba (TEAM) was founded in 1972 so managers could express their workplace concerns collectively to what was then the province’s publicly run telephone company. TEAM sought union certification in 1985 and completed the process in 1986. With telecommunications a federally regulated industry, in 2003 the union received federal certification to represent its members. When MTS bought Allstream in 2004, TEAM foresaw new complexities in the labour relations environment and affiliated with IFPTE to gain the support and expertise of the international union.