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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
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Alberta's Telephone Heritage
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Labour

The labour division of a telephone company consists of those who perform the physical work associated with running a network of thousands of phones.

The repair dispatch area dispatches line and station PBX, PABX and special equipment trouble calls to repairmenThe type of work performed by craftsmen in telephone companies in Alberta today can be divided into two areas – construction and networking.

The construction craft deals with the physical production and maintenance of telephone systems. It includes the linemen, installers and repairmen. Workers may be expected to perform a variety of tasks depending on their job description. Often, their work involves climbing utility poles or entering manholes, cable vaults and pedestals in order to install, test, maintain and inspect telephone lines and cables.

In the network craft, employees handle the telecommunications networks that are part of our daily lives today. They install, maintain, repair or remove wiring networks, consumer communications equipment and switchboards. They also deal with specialized telephone-related equipment such as intercoms, fax machines, computer networks and electronic key systems. The maintenance of various types of microwave, television, toll and switching equipment used for both local and long distance service also falls under the work of the network craftsman. Stringing Cable

A craftsman’s work is not always easy. The job expectations have changed since the first telephone lines were laid in Alberta in the late 1800s. Telephone technology is much more complex today, and workers must know their equipment inside out.

The job requires workers to possess strong mechanical and analytical skills, as well as the ability to do fine component work with their hands. As well, it is expected that installers who do work in customers’ homes or businesses be polite, tactful, and adaptable.

There is no doubt that the work of a telephone craftsman can be physically demanding. There is also the added risk of electrical shock or injury from falling. However, those who work in the labour sector of Alberta’s telephone industry know that the rewards are worth the risks. The constantly changing nature of the industry creates a stimulating and challenging environment where there is always something new to learn, and where creativity is a valued trait.

Currently, over 4500 Albertans are employed as labourers in the industry. They often start out as journeymen in telephone apprenticeship programs offered at collages and institutions in Alberta.


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