A crown corporation or a private company – what’s the difference? Let me share the story of the Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS).
Back when MTS was still a publicly owned crown corporation there were 1,750 workers with 79% of them working full time. Fast forward 15 years to 2011, MTS has been privatized and there are now 1,214 workers, a loss of about 30 percent. Further, only 54 per cent of the employees are full time workers.
This is a total drop of 536 jobs, but more importantly it is a loss of 627 full time jobs.
As a crown corporation MTS had a significant presence in Manitoba communities, from Thompson, Swan River, Flin Flon, Morden, Neepwa, to Portage la Prairie just to name a few, providing face to face service to the citizens and businesses of Manitoba and good jobs in the community.
Today, with MTS as as a private corporation, “the reach out and touch someone” era is a service from the past. All clerical jobs are now concentrated in Winnipeg and Brandon and many of the high paying executive positions moving east to Toronto.
Clerical jobs saw a drop of more than 30% with part time workers more than doubling. The loss of 536 jobs at an average clerical wage of approximately $24.60/hr means $24 million a year taken out of the economy and not spent in Manitoba businesses! And compare the more than $3.5 million annual salary of the private sector MTS CEO to that of the crown corporation SaskTel CEO of just over $350,000/year.
You can see the focus of a private company is very different than that of a public crown corporation. With a publicly owned crown corporation, investment goes back to providing lower rates, services and jobs in our communities rather than to the pockets of overpaid CEO’s and out-of-country shareholders.
I guess no one can get rich under a crown corporation…is that the real issue driving privatization?
Wendy Sol is Administrative Vice-President of the Western Region, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada