Shaw lays off 10% temporarily, blames COVID-19

Canadian cable and mobile operator Shaw Communications said Tuesday it is temporarily laying off 10% of its workforce, citing the "extraordinary and unpredictable conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Shaw said the temporary reduction, taking effect on April 16, will largely affect people working in retail and sales roles. CBC, Canada's national broadcaster, reported that the cuts will affect nearly 1,000 employees.

Shaw, which operates Freedom Mobile, said the company is ineligible for emergency government assistance programs, but will use its own funds to "top up government Employment Insurance payments at various levels, depending on employee earnings, and continue to extend benefits and pension contributions for eligible non-unionized employees during the temporary layoff period."

Shaw will use a mix of digital, self-serve and self-install options to help customers stay connected, company President Paul McAleese explained in a release.

Speaking on the company's earnings call last Thursday (April 9), Shaw chairman and CEO Bradley Shaw noted that the company has been able to transition about 5,000 employees to work from home. "Within days, we implemented additional technology and tools that enabled more staff to work remotely, including our call centers, and we now have almost 80% of our total employee base safely and efficiently working from home," he added.

Last week, Shaw noted that peak traffic on the company's wireline network had increased by as much as 50% alongside a decrease in mobile traffic as customers offloaded more data to home Wi-Fi networks.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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