Kingston, ON– Management at Queen’s University has set the stage for a pending lock-out or strike affecting 450 front-line workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), as early as the end of this month, by asking the Ministry of Labour to start a 17-day countdown to a legal lockout or strike situation. This provocative move has jeopardized the negotiation process and increased the likelihood of a disruption for students and campus operations, warns CUPE.
“Queen’s administration seems determined to lock out their own workers,” said Donna Carlaw, CUPE national representative, speaking on behalf of CUPE members at Queen’s University. “It is clear to us that this administration has a master plan to force workers to accept changes to the pension plan and they appear to be prepared to lock out their own workers in August, in order to implement their agenda.”
“This employer is not interested in bargaining, they are more interested in pushing for a confrontation with their unionized workers. While CUPE sought the help of a conciliator to move bargaining forward, it was the university that pulled the trigger for a no-board report from the Ministry of Labour. Next will be a lock-out of front-line workers,” predicted Carlaw. “No matter what your master plan is – it is shameful to do it on the backs of workers who have helped build Queen’s world renowned reputation,” Carlaw warned university senior management.
Queen’s administration is trying to force drastic changes to the university’s pension plan by increasing workers’ pension contributions and reducing their future pension benefits. The administration is also claiming that an actuarial pension report due on August 31, 2011 must reflect the planned changes for the coming year in order to defray the pension plan’s future payments. The reality is the next actuarial valuation report for Queen’s pension plan is not due until the end of May 2012 “and that gives us plenty of time to discuss pension issues properly and fairly at the bargaining table,” concluded Carlaw.
“The facts are clear – the real deadline is a full ten months from now and changes to the pension plan to qualify for solvency relief do not need to be implemented for another eight years,” continued Carlaw. “There is plenty of time for both parties to bargain fairly and respectfully, and the union is prepared to find solutions at the table. Forcing an unnecessary deadline, is denying workers’ representatives reasonable time to review dense pension information and thwarting any meaningful discussions. ”
“Surely, Queen’s University, an institution of higher learning that educates future leaders, should understand proper protocol in bargaining, labour relations and just plain decency in dealing with their own workers,” said Carlaw.
CUPE represents Queen’s trades and maintenance staff, custodial and athletics staff, residence and recreation staff (CUPE Local 229), technicians providing services at the university’s teaching and research labs (CUPE Local 254), and library technicians (CUPE Local 1302). The workers’ last contracts expired on June 30, 2010.
For more information, please contact:
Donna Carlaw, CUPE National Representative, 613-542-2069, (cell) 613-453-2597
James Chai, CUPE Communications, 416-292-3999