Telus to provide severance and retirement packages to about 2,000 Canadian
Telus has offered voluntary severance and retirement packages to almost 2,000 customer support employees across the country and expects “several hundred” people to accept the offer.
The Vancouver-based telecommunications company made the offer Wednesday to employees who provide customer support for wireless and residential (internet and TV) services, the Star has learned.
Donna Hokiro, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1944, which represents about 6,400 Telus employees, confirmed that 1,992 of her members received the voluntary buyout offers.
Telus spokesperson Richard Gilhooley said the company’s investment in new customer support technology is behind the decision to offer the employee packages.
“We’ve made significant investments in customer service technology and self-serve capabilities to provide our customers with more service options,” he said in an email Wednesday evening. “As a result, we recently offered a voluntary program to some team members.”
Gilhooley said that based on the company’s experience with past buyouts, “we anticipate a small proportion of team members to choose this voluntary offer.” In a subsequent email, he said the company would “only allow several hundred to take it.”
“It’s also important to stress that this is a voluntary program, and is part of routine business operations for us,” he said.
Hokiro called the terms of the offers “aggressive” and predicted “a lot of people will take it.”
For employees that accept the deal, the company is offering a lump-sum payment that includes one month of severance for every year of service up to a cap of 18 months, Hokiro said. (The terms are different for cases of early retirement, which is capped at 12 months severance.)
It has also added various “enhancements,” including an additional lump sum of $1,000 per year of service up to a maximum of $20,000 and a $500 bonus for accepting the offer early.
“Some people are looking at packages of up to $70,000,” Hokiro said. “We haven’t seen offers like this in a long time.”
She said she believes the loss of these high-quality union jobs will “harm communities.”
Telus avoided a strike by more than 6,500 USW workers just two months ago when employees voted to approve a new contract after months of bargaining. That collective agreement runs until 2027.
Telus has told employees that if they do not accept the buyout offer, they could be “redeployed” to a different area of the company and that could come with the potential for schedule changes, Hokiro said.
Gilhooley did not comment on the specifics of the packages or the company’s communications around the offers.
As of the end of last year, Telus had 34,700 Canadian employees.
It also employs 73,800 people outside of Canada, most of whom work for its Telus International call centre, IT and business support operation.
The buyout offer was not extended to certain customer support agents including Chinese-language employees, bilingual/French agents and tech support employees.
Telus set a deadline of June 9 for responses and told employees that departures will happen mainly in July and August with some in October. It also said that it may not accept all departures.
This article was reported by The Star