(Trois-Rivir0065s, Wednesday, December 13, 2000) Conciliator, Thomas Hayden, has temporarily adjourned talks concerning renewal of the UQTR lecturers collective agreement. In view of the turn taken during discussions between the two parties yesterday, the lecturers union (CUPE-QFL) voluntarily agreed to this temporary halt, even though it deplores the lack of concern shown by the employers during the latest meetings. Bargaining will resume as soon as the conciliator calls the parties together again.
While students are being deprived of their courses, the Unions Executive Council is very disappointed with the attitude of the employers representatives who, over the past few days, have intensified their attempts to break up the bargaining. Yesterday, the employers manoeuvers reached absurd levels. “The employers have constantly hindered the bargaining, going back on their word several times, but yesterday, it simply became ridiculous,” reported union president, Robert Bellerose.
In fact, the Union is astonished by a statement made by Frano0069s Hr006fux, who has not participated in any of the talks and yet took it upon himself to declare to the Nouvelliste that the tone on each side of the table had remained “correct”. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the incidents and altercations at the bargaining table increased radically throughout the day yesterday.
For the Union, it is evident that the two employers representatives at the table have no manoeuvering margin to settle anything whatsoever. Since they have no mandate, the spokespersons for UQTR are constantly running off to consult their employers. These caucuses often take hours and contribute to delaying the bargaining process. After a month of strike, during which the UQTR senior managers continually complained about the absence of the lecturers in the classroom, the true decision-makers for the employers have still not condescended to attend the bargaining table.
Bargaining with the Brakes On
Talks are advancing at a snails pace. Yesterday (Tuesday), after over an hour of consultation with the senior management, just as a simple piece of text was being concluded, UQTR refused a sentence which read: “UQTR will undertake all the steps…” and proposed that the only acceptable text would read: “UQTR will undertake steps…”. With all the seriousness in the world, the employers spokesperson then stated that he refused the word “all”, resulting in a burst of laughter from around the table.
During the session on Monday, one of the two representatives for the employer had to leave the table due to a health problem of a family member, leaving the other representative alone. The union understood this emergency and held no-one responsible for the situation.
At the beginning of the session yesterday (Tuesday), the employers representatives presented a proposal for a letter of agreement to be signed. Later during the day, the Union signed the letter of agreement as expected. The employers representative began by hesitating to sign the letter himself, but finally did agree to do so, however only after his colleague had said to him, “we need to be consistent with ourselves”. The signed document was then thrown on the floor before being recovered by the union spokesperson who asked that such behavior “should not be repeated”. But, the story does not end there. A few minutes later, after another interminable employers caucus, the UQTR representative asked to withdraw the letter that he had nevertheless just signed! He no longer wanted to sign his own document!
In the Unions opinion, this type of attitude hinders the bargaining process and is only designed to slow up current negotiations which, inspite of everything have continued to progress since the strike was called. There is no doubt that this attitude, designed to slow down the bargaining, is purely provocative in regard to the students, resulting in loud protests from the Association gnrale des t0075diants. It should not be forgotten that, at the beginning of the strike, the Rector had assured the President of AGEUQTR that Mr. Hr006fux was going to join his bargaining team at the table. As we know, this has never taken place.
Although the union party is composed of five people, including the Union President, there are only two people at the table representing the UQTR, the Director of Labour Relations, ric Hamelin (the 7th to hold this title at UQTR over the past 12 years) and a management employee assigned to Labour Relations, Marc-Andr 0047ilbert. At no time, since the beginning of bargaining has the employer attended a meeting. Even after a month of strike, neither the Vice-Rector, Frano0069s Hr006fux, nor the Rector, Claire De La Durantaye, have thought it necessary to participate in the discussions. On Monday morning, Marc-Andr 0047ilbert told a lecturer who was demonstrating: “I am nothing more than a pawn in this situation.”
Jean Charest Supports the Lecturers Demands
During an interview on CHLN yesterday (Tuesday), the Leader of the Liberal Party of Qub0065c and the Official Opposition, Jean Charest, expressed his support for the lecturers demands. Mr. Charest stated: “I can confirm that these employees work very hard. A problem has existed for a long time and affects not only remuneration, but also the organization of work at the university, because if they carry over 50% of the teaching load at a lower cost, it indicates a lack of balance in operations. And this means that the lecturers have a just cause to defend and, in effect, resources must be provided to support them.” Mr. Charest also added that “it will be necessary to pay them more because their current remuneration is not very high”.
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N.B. The members of the Bargaining Committee, having been retained by their work, will not make any comment on the current state of bargaining between the lecturers and the UQTR, other than in this press release.
CANADIAN UNION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES (QFL)
LOCAL 2661, SYNDICAT DES CHARGS DE COURS DE LUQTR