René Roy, general secretary of the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ), is appealing to the provincial government in an effort to stop chaos and to avoid jeopardizing the current pay equity process in Montreal. The main cause of contention is the interpretation of the Pay Equity Act, following a recent amendment by the Charest government.
The impact of this interpretation is considerable since the changes force the Syndicat des fonctionnaires municipaux de Montréal (SFMM, CUPE FTQ) to immediately create working committees for each of the twelve reconstituted municipalities and to achieve pay equity by December 31, 2010. This includes training people to serve on those committees and restarting the complex pay equity process that is already in place in the city core. This upheaval is creating disorder and triggering a landslide of questions related to practical applications. There is great concern it will further complicate the current process and create iniquities.
Monique Côté, SFMM CUPE-FTQ president, said, “The Island of Montreal’s white-collar workers and citizens will once again have to shoulder the cost of this imposing structure created by the municipal mergers and subsequent demergers. How much money will this cost? Millions. And that’s not even including salary adjustments.”
Keep in mind that in June 2006 Nathalie Normandeau, Minister of Municipal Affairs at the time, promised that equity would be achieved and in accordance with the provisions in the Pay Equity Act, despite the difficulties created by the mergers in 2002 and the reorganization in 2006.
The Commission’s job
Union leaders are also pointing the finger at the Commission de l’équité salariale (CES) for refusing to compromise and for putting procedures before the workers’ real interests.
Lucie Levasseur, CUPE Quebec president, said, “The Commission needs to stop obsessing about the legality of the issues and start focusing on the fundamental objectives behind the Act.”
René Roy shares the same view. “The CES’s approach hardly reflects the discussions we had with the labour minister during consultations leading up to the adoption of amendments to the Act. At that time the words “rigour and flexibility” kept coming back,” he said. “But now the CES is showing zero flexibility.”
The Syndicat des fonctionnaires municipaux de Montréal (SFMM, CUPE-FTQ) is the largest municipal sector union in Quebec, representing more than 10,000 municipal and para-municipal white collar employees working for the City of Montreal, for the 14 reconstituted municipalities in the Montreal area, and for para-municipal corporations, including the Société du Parc Jean-Drapeau, the Société d’habitation et de développement de Montreal (SHDM), Corporation Anjou 80, Stationnement de Montréal, the Office municipal d’habitation de Montréal (OMHM), and the private company Parc Six Flags Montréal SEC (La Ronde).
CUPE represents approximately 70 per cent of all municipal workers in Quebec. With close to 105,000 members across the province, CUPE is active in several other sectors, including health and social services, education, universities, public transportation, airlines, communications, Quebec crown corporations and public agencies. CUPE is also the largest FTQ affiliate.
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