QUEBEC – Municipal officials had quite a welcoming committee at the opening of the meeting of the Union of Quebec Municipalities (UQM). Thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the Quebec convention centre to remind officials and Premier Philippe Couillard, who opened the meeting, that disrupting the balance of power at the negotiating table is a direct attack on a fundamental right and an unacceptable affront to all Quebec workers.
Representatives of every sector of CUPE, along with CUPE National President Mark Hancock, National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury, and affiliates of the Quebec Federation of Labour (QFL) joined municipal workers in warning the government not to table a bill that would restrict the right of workers to bargain freely and would give elected officials the power to impose working conditions on their employees.
“It would be unheard of in the history of labour relations in Quebec! Elected officials want to shift their financial problems onto the backs of their employees. It’s despicable! The Charbonneau Commission showed us that collusion and corruption were a huge financial burden on municipalities and that not all elected officials are trustworthy,” said Denis Bolduc, general secretary of CUPE-Québec.
“Municipal workers will not be the scapegoats of elected officials who shirk their own responsibilities,” added Daniel Boyer, president of the QFL. “Let the elected officials sit down and negotiate! We have demonstrated that negotiation works: 95 per cent of collective agreements are settled smoothly, with respect for all parties.”
With over 110,000 members in Quebec, CUPE represents about 70 per cent of the province’s municipal employees, or 31,600 members. CUPE is also present in the following sectors: health and social services, communications, education, universities, energy, Quebec government corporations and public agencies, urban and air transport, and the mixed sector.
The Quebec Federation of Labour is the province’s largest central labour body, representing over 600,000 workers.