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Thousands of members of the Coalition syndicale pour la libre négociation [Union Coalition for Free Negotiation] took a noisy 15-minute break this past Tuesday between 2:00 and 2:15 p.m. in cities throughout Quebec. These white and blue-collar municipal employees, firefighters, police officers and public transportation workers used their break to make their voices heard outside of city halls and workplaces in Montréal, Gatineau, Sherbrooke, Saguenay and Laval. They were expressing their anger about the tabling of Bill 3 on pension plans.

Coalition leaders on the ground in various municipalities made the following statement:

“We are taking 15 minutes to try to understand as a group why the government has opted for confrontation in the form of Bill 3. Fifteen minutes to seek to grasp why our government is turning the open negotiation process into a masquerade by fixing the outcome and dumping everyone – police, firefighters, blue collar, white collar, public transportation employees – into the same bucket despite the existence of more than 120 collective agreements that dictate entirely otherwise.

“Fifteen minutes to wonder why the government has embraced wholeheartedly the positions of mayors Coderre and Labeaume, the new core of the UMQ, some of whose members have wasted more through collusion and corruption than the people could ever dream of recovering through the sweat of the honest workers of this province!

“Elected officials are the ones who pay the least into their pension funds, something they vote on for themselves! And the same applies to their salaries! And in return, they deny us the basic right to negotiate. Why are we being steamrolled by this bill that goes too far? Why are labour relations being turned into a mockery? Why have they chosen the route of confrontation? Fifteen minutes to reflect on this together is not too much to ask, because we have yet to understand…”

the Coalition comprises a total of more than 65,000 members including white and blue collar workers, firefighters, police officers, professionals and public transportation employees. It represents virtually all unionized municipal employees in Quebec. It is categorically opposed to any bill that would undermine the fundamental right to free negotiation on the issue of pensions.

On May 21, more than 12,000 members of the Coalition demonstrated outside the National Assembly. On April 24, more than 2,500 demonstrated outside the headquarters of the Union of Quebec Municipalities (UMQ) in Montreal. On April 15, more than 1,000 delegates from various unions met at the Montreal Convention Centre.

The Coalition consists of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE-Quebec) and its Municipal Sector Provincial Council as well as its ground transport sector, the Fédération des employées et employés de services publics (FEESP-CSN), the Fédération indépendante des syndicats autonomes (FISA), the Fédération des policiers et policières municipaux du Québec, the Association des pompiers de Montréal, the Regroupement des associations de pompiers du Québec and the Syndicat des pompiers et pompières du Québec – FTQ.