Negotiations between the City of Gatineau and 300 employees in its aquatic centres have reached a breaking point. At a general meeting held last Friday night, members unanimously voted in favour of pressure tactics up to and including strike action.

The talks, which began in 2018, have bogged down due to disputes over monetary issues. The City’s last offer called for an hourly salary of $13.59 for assistant supervisor(s)-lifeguards and $13.14 for reception officers. The union finds these offers scandalous, as they are less than Quebec’s minimum wage of $14.25 an hour.

“They’re asking us to accept compensation that’s less than minimum wage. This is a real disgrace and shows a total lack of respect from the fourth largest city in Quebec, which, we point out, is managing a budget of close to $700 million in 2022,” said CUPE union representative Guy Gosselin.

Eight months ago, a mediator was assigned to the case, but her presence had no effect on negotiations. The union representing aquatic personnel is on the verge of forming a mobilizing committee to resort to pressure tactics in order to get through to the City.

“We’re particularly proud that members turned out in huge numbers at the general meeting. This shows is they’re determined in their fight to get a decent wage,” added Angélica Martinez, president of CUPE 4881.