Union urges boycott of Kelowna Cabs as company locks out dispatchers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Union urges boycott of Kelowna Cabs as company locks out dispatchers

MoveUP, the union representing dispatchers and call takers at Kelowna Cabs, held a rally at the company's headquarters, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021.
February 26, 2021 - 3:28 PM

The union representing dispatchers and call takers at Kelowna Cabs is urging the public to boycott the cab service after it locked out its employees.

MoveUP, the union representing the dispatchers, held a small rally beginning at the Kelowna Cabs headquarters in Kelowna today, Feb. 26, after talks between the taxi company and union broke down.

Scott Wilcox, chief bargaining agent for MoveUP, said Kelowna Cabs has already breached the labour code as determined by the B.C. Labour Relations Board, and the company made no effort to enter into a collective agreement in the last year and a half with the union.

According to the labour relations board decision posted in November, 2020, Kelowna Cabs had issued layoff notices to its employees as it planned to close the dispatch office and start using an app as of Dec. 1.

In the decision, the taxi company said the move was in anticipation of the impact ride-hailing services would have since six Kelowna rideshare licences were approved last year. The Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 378 (now rebranded as MoveUP) filed an application arguing Kelowna Cabs failed to bargain in good faith by informing the entire bargaining team they were to be laid off.

“They laid our folks off very early on, we had the board order them back. We finally got into mediation, the union offered them a very simple deal and they responded by locking us out," Wilcox said. "The main issue in this dispute is their insistence on shipping jobs overseas to a call centre in India, we’re not going to agree to that."

READ MORE: Kelowna taxi company forced to shelve app plan as union wins fight for jobs

Currently, five employees are locked out.

“First off, we want to let our members know that they have a union that will stand behind them," he said. "Second off, we want to raise awareness in the community so people will boycott Kelowna Cabs until this dispute is over.”

Dispatcher Eric Reite said he just wants his employer to abide by the contract they signed.

“They just don’t seem to understand that they have signed a contract and they should abide by it,” Reite said.

Andy Sandhu with Kelowna Cabs said the union has issues with them using new technology like voicemail and answering services.

He said an example is if one dispatcher is working and goes to the bathroom, the union wants Kelowna Cabs to hire another person to fill that time instead of it going to an answering service.

“We don’t even have enough work during the pandemic and all this stuff to answer those phones, but their contract says we must hire a second person,” Sandhu said. “They want to operate in the 19th century and we want to operate in the 20th century.”

He said union members will not be let go, and there are no plans to offshore jobs to India.

“(A) contract is a good thing, but it has to make common sense,” Sandhu said.

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