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QUEBEC – On June 1, nearly a thousand Laval University support staff broke bread together in an enthusiastic demonstration. Their collective agreement expired on May 31 and their union kicked off a campaign to mobilize public opinion and encourage the negotiation of a new labour contract.

The demonstrators launched the theme of the campaign: Maîtres sur notre terrain (Masters of our field). The campaign will continue over the summer and then go into high gear with an ambitious advertising component. The union intends to emphasize the know-how and expertise of the support staff.

Retirements are on the rise among its members, and staff turnover is high at a time when skilled labour is scarce in the region. The union’s leaders are therefore stressing the importance of a successful transition.

“For Laval University to continue to function in the coming years, it must attract and retain quality support staff. This is certainly not a time to discuss lowering working conditions. But we are concerned about the administration’s intentions regarding the future of the pension plan. If the plan should be reviewed, it is primarily to ensure its sustainability, by finding common solutions. Our message today is clear: management must make the right choices in the coming negotiations,” said Luke Brouillette, president of the CUPE union of Laval University support staff (SEUL-SCFP-FTQ).

Notable guests supported the demonstrators including FTQ President Michel Arsenault, CUPE-Quebec President Lucie Levasseur, and Denis Bolduc, the new Secretary General of CUPE-Quebec.

“It’s an honour for me to support the sustainability of the pension plan of the members of SEUL. Their cause is closely related to the FTQ’s worry-free retirement campaign, Une retraite à l’abri des soucis, which aims to gradually but substantially increase the coverage of public pension plans. Public plans are a powerful tool in the fight against poverty, as well as the best way to alleviate pressure on supplemental employer plans,” said Michel Arsenault.

“More than three years ago, at a work table on retirement created during the previous negotiations, the union proposed solutions to Rector Brière. Unfortunately, he did not respond to these. But it is never too late. Mr. Briere, sit down with your union and make this a priority,” urged Lucie Levasseur.

SEUL-SCFP-FTQ represents some 1,800 people working at Laval University in trades, clerical and technical jobs: plumbers, carpenters, secretarial staff, campus police, computer technicians, etc.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents some 11,000 members in universities; mainly support staff. With more than 110,000 members in Quebec, CUPE is also the largest affiliate of the FTQ.

For more information:    
Éric-Jan Zubrzycki, Union Advisor, mobile: 418 997-9191

Sébastien Goulet, CUPE Communications, mobile: 438 882-3756