TELUS Corp. chief executive Darren Entwhistle says customer service levels are at the same or better than they were before the strike, and following the implementation of the company’s emergency operating procedures. This is due in part to the company’s operations being highly automated with approximately 80% of the service work being done without a visit required to a customer location. For example, TELUS is answering calls faster on average now than before the strike. The company is also exceeding its targets on other customer automated service work such as ADSL quick installations and repairs. The following are comments Entwhistle made during the August 5 Q2 conference call.  Moreover we have made tremendous headway in reducing work that requires a truck and a crew to be sent to a site. At this time, the repair queue of non-automated work resulting from the strike is cleared in Alberta and is declining rapidly in British Columbia. Where new orders are involved, we are prioritizing the work to ensure our customers’ health and safety is protected and for business customers who require service to continue their operations. It is significant that our efforts to maintain customer service have been supported by the large number of unionized team members still coming to work. The number of employees in Alberta choosing to work is increasing each day and currently stands at circa 50% of our unionized employees choosing to come to work, serve our customers and demonstrate their commitment to their fellow colleagues and TELUS. It should also be noted that unionized team members in Central Canada are also on the job at Telus Mobility.  In addition, Telus Quebec is not impacted by the current situation and union team members continue to work in the province of Quebec. At present Telus is not allowing B.C. union members to cross the picket lines. Telus was also quick to apply for and win court injunctions in both British Columbia and Alberta over the pass two weeks that limit picket line activity.  While the TWU ordered a full general strike, this has not transpired. About 70% of our 28,700 Telus employees remain at work. And east of British Columbia, about two-thirds of unionized team members remain on the job. Through team members’ hard work and desire to serve our customers, Telus remains fully operational, and this will not change regardless of the duration of the work stoppage. The initial major outlay of cash payments to unionized team members will not occur until the offer is ratified. As previously communicated, we estimate that the payments and lump sums payable on ratification are approximately $200 million. To put this into perspective, this represents an initial average payment of $16,000 per employee upon signing and ratification of our proposed collective agreement. Importantly, we have fully accrued for this offer and there will not be a one-time charge to the income statement.  At the end of the day, the TELUS offer provides the flexibility we need to compete on an even playing field against our competitors and continue our track record of financial and operational success that we’ve established. TELUS is resolved to stay the course and have our unionized members understand, vote on and accept the excellent offer we have made to TWU and to them… I think it would be fair to say that the primary capability for us right now is to pursue getting Alberta back to work. We have circa 50% of our unionized employees now working in Alberta. We have good momentum. The trajectory of people coming back to work is very encouraging for us.  Given that we have 100% of our unionized employees working in Ontario and Quebec, if we can complement that with getting Alberta back to work, then we’re going to have a super majority of unionized employees voting with their feet, if you will, and choosing to work within the confines of the new collective agreement. I think that will send a strong signal to our union that they should perhaps reflect upon their decision not to put the offer out to a vote and maybe consider an alternative course of action.  Because when the super majority of unionized employees is at work, they’re working under the model of the new collective agreement. I think that’s a pretty loud voice that’s going to demand to be answered by the TWU and to give those people a democratic ability to express their views on the collective agreement that we have proposed and the collective agreement that we have implemented… We are no longer a provincial telco, we are a national telco and we can bring national resources to bear to shore up our capabilities in any single province. So previously within B.C. for example, we could only draw upon the B.C. management team. Now in terms of maintaining operations in B.C., we draw upon the management teams in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. And that was a resource not available to previous administrations within BCTel.  Additionally from a technology perspective, we have capabilities that we haven’t had in the past. About 80% of our business is now fully automated. In terms of our technology from a call centre perspective, we can re-route calls to any of our call centres on a national basis. To deal with something that’s a particular problem in any province, we can override that by shifting the traffic to another call centre where we’ve got a more union friendly zone within the TELUS organization. So leveraging technology puts us in a very robust position to weather a work stoppage of any duration and to deliver against the operational and financial metrics that we have set out for investors.