Aliant strikers receive $3-million boost

Striking Aliant Inc. workers received a total of $3 million earlier this week when both the Communications, Energy and Paperworks Union of Canada (CEP) — donating $2 million — and the Telecommunications Workers Union (TWA) — donating $1 million — kicked in funds to help pay the strikers’ medical benefits.

Roughly 4,200 of Aliant’s workers, who are members of the Atlantic Communications and Technical Workers Union (ACTWU) as well as CEP, hit the picket lines 100 days ago after being without a contract since 1999 — after Nova Scotia’s four telecommunications providers merged.

Hope Cumming and Bruce Bell, two vice-presidents of the TWU, were in Halifax earlier this week to present Aliant workers with a cheque for $1 million. The TWA described the strike as “the same struggle being fought for in the communications industry from coast to coast.”

A few of the major issues striking Aliant workers are fighting for include: protection against the overuse of temporary and part-time workers; protection against rising health costs; and a revised pension plan creating improved defined benefits for all employees.

Some controversy hit the picket lines in late June when 255,000 Aliant customers went without service for 15 hours after it was discovered that network-critical fibre was cut in two eastern locations.

The first disrupted location was home to a cable that enables all Aliant services for the eastern part of Newfoundland while the second location was the back-up fibre connection for the first cable, explained Lynn Coveyduck, manager of public affairs for Aliant.

According to Coveyduck, the telco has experienced around 20 similar incidents since the beginning of the strike. She said the timeline of the events earlier this month suggest an inside operation.

With files from Carly Suppa, It World Canada

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