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CUPE municipal workers across the greater Montreal area are currently in the middle of a whirlwind of mobilization, fighting to achieve new collective agreements.

On the South Shore, Chateauguay blue-collar workers are in the middle of a 48 hour strike, from one minute after midnight on Thursday until midnight Friday – although they are still providing essential services affecting the health and safety of the population. They have been negotiating for almost two years without an agreement – and the main obstacle has been around the impact of a multi-sport complex that the City plans to build through a public-private partnership (P3).

On the Western part of the island, 23 Beaconsfield blue-collar workers went out on strike at one minute past midnight on Friday, September 18th. They are opposing discriminatory “grandfather clauses” and seeking minimum staffing measures to counter rampant contracting out.

For some good news from the West Island, 98% of Dorval blue-collar workers voted in favour of a new collective agreement on Wednesday. The 8-year contract, set to expire in December 2013, includes annual raises between 2 and 2.75%, for a total of 18.25%. As well, they agreed to a minimum staffing level of 80 permanent employees, and group insurance paid at 100 % by the employer.

Closer to downtown, on the night of Wednesday, September 16th, 84% of City of Westmount white-collar workers voted in favour of calling a strike when deemed appropriate. They have been without a contract since June 30th, 2006. The issues in contention are the employer’s refusal to pay bonuses to employees working outside normal hours, as well as wages.

And in Montreal itself, on Wednesday, September 16th, the Quebec government acted almost immediately on a call from CUPE 301, the blue-collar workers’ union, to name a conciliator who will accelerate negotiations with the city. “Les bleus” have been without a contract for more than 2 years and are opposing a financial framework which would exclude compensation for a loss of 15% imposed in arbitration in 2004. Two weeks ago, on August 31st, they also went out on a 24-hour strike to raise awareness of the situation.