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Montra006c, Thursday, November 16, 2000 For the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE-QFL), Bill 170 makes only inadequate and rather timid progress towards recognition of fundamental labour rights in the context of municipal reorganization in Qub0065c. The bill still violates the right to free collective bargaining, notably because it still relies on arbitration and because Municipal Affairs Minister Louise Harel still has ultimate control over labour relations.

The main menu is still just as indigestible

“We will participate in the parliamentary hearings to defend our demands, but we have no illusions about how much the Bouchard government will listen, since it seems to have already made up its mind.

“The menu still features suspending the right to strike and the right to free collective bargaining, freezing wages for collective agreements not yet signed and reducing working conditions to the lowest common denominator are still part of the menu. There are a few changes in the appetizers, but the main menu hasn’t changed and it is still just as indigestible,” said Claude Ht0075, assistant director for CUPE in Qub0065c and responsible for municipal files.

Changes are mostly cosmetic

“The concept of compulsory arbitration has been replaced with a dispute resolution process, and a distinction is made between the costs inherent in the reorganization process and those related to the collective agreement per se, but in our opinion the changes are mostly cosmetic,” deplored Mr. Ht0075.

“Obviously, given the fait accompli of the new municipal structures, we will shift the focus of our struggle to these new structures, to make sure that the politicians understand clearly that it is in their interest to negotiate diligently and in good faith with their union counterparts,” warned Pierre Dupuis, director of CUPE for Qub0065c.

A political price to pay

“The government can pass all the laws it wants; it can make all sorts of declarations; we know very well that the issue will be decided in the field, and we are going to make sure that we use our bargaining strength with maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

“The government is going to learn sooner rather than later that there is a political price to pay when you try to stuff an extraordinary labour relations process that is totally unjustified by the circumstances down the throats of thousands of employees.

“In the past and again just recently, we have demonstrated our ability to mobilize, and the adoption of Bill 170 will not extinguish this solidarity in the struggle to defend our rights. It will simply be brought to bear in an area we are very familiar with, namely the municipalities,” concluded Claude Ht0075.

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Louis Cauchy, (514) 384-9681, ext. 270

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